René Magritte. The False Mirror. Paris 1929

René Magritte The False Mirror Paris 1929

  • Not on view

Le Faux Miroir presents an enormous lashless eye with a luminous cloud-swept blue sky filling the iris and an opaque, dead-black disc for a pupil. The allusive title, provided by the Belgian Surrealist writer Paul Nougé, seems to insinuate limits to the authority of optical vision: a mirror provides a mechanical reflection, but the eye is selective and subjective. Magritte’s single eye functions on multiple enigmatic levels: the viewer both looks through it, as through a window, and is looked at by it, thus seeing and being seen simultaneously. The Surrealist photographer Man Ray, who owned the work from 1933 to 1936, recognized this compelling duality when he memorably described Le Faux Miroir as a painting that “sees as much as it itself is seen.”

Gallery label from Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938, September 28, 2013–January 12, 2014
Oil on canvas
21 1/4 x 31 7/8" (54 x 80.9 cm)
Object number
© 2018 C. Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Painting and Sculpture