Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rene Magritte and the Visualization of Thought


"What one must paint is the image of resemblance — if thought is to become visible in the world." (Rene Magritte)


"On The Threshold of Liberty"
Rene Magritte, 1937


What do you see? What does it mean to be on the threshold of liberty?

Will one realize 'liberty' by exploding the panel of representations and experiencing the sky, a forest, etc. for itself, unmediated by their representations? But if art can be nothing more than representation, can it ever lead to the actualization of liberty?

Or since the cannon is pointing to the left side of the house, could it suggest that liberty as represented by the elements of nature (i.e. the sky, forest, wood, and a woman) are somehow endangered?

I found it fascinating to view the painting at first without the title and then with it -- Would one begin to think about liberty without the explicit guidance of the painter in the form of the title? Can thought therefore be made visible without the help of the word? The title places constraints on the imagination and in turn on our interpretation of the painting, for it is hard not to think of the painting as it relates to the title. Is Magritte helping the viewer understand the painting or is he deconstructing the use of image and word in conjunction with one another? Is he leading us astray by giving the painting that very title, because he knows of the natural precedence that is given to the word over the image?

Any thoughts?

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