René Magritte. The False Mirror. Paris 1929

René Magritte

The False Mirror

Paris 1929

Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
21 1/4 x 31 7/8" (54 x 80.9 cm)
Credit
Purchase
Object number
133.1936
Copyright
© 2017 C. Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Department
Painting and Sculpture
This work is not on view.
René Magritte has 14 works  online.
There are 2,374 paintings online.

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

The False Mirror 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 The False Mirror as a painting that "sees as much as it itself is seen."

Gallery label from 2015

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
The artist, Brussels. 1928 - 1930
E. L. T. (Edouard Léon Théodore) Mesens (1903-1971), Brussels. Purchased from Magritte, June 1930 - 1933
Man Ray. Acquired from Mesens, 1933 - 1936
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchased from Man Ray in 1936

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