The Magician by Rene Magritte

I’m so excited to talk about today’s painting. I am really captured by its interesting and peculiar subject. Today’s work is The Magician by Rene Magritte. Here is a link on Magritte’s life and painting style.


The Magician (Self-portrait with four arms) by Rene Magritte, 1952

This painting is really interesting. The subject is very simple, it’s just Magritte having a meal; but the detail of the four arms somehow gives me a feeling of agitation and concern.

Like Magritte said: “Anyone crazy about movement or its opposite will not enjoy this picture.” I agree with Magritte because this painting is simultaneously static and generates a lot of movement. It looks static because Magritte seems to be frozen: the way he’s chewing, cutting the meat and poring the wine all seem like frozen actions. Despite this, having four arms and hands doing something at the same time inevitably creates movement. Magritte created a mastepiece with very fragile balance.

It’s hard to explain this “static-movement” relation because we only see it on a painting, as a picture. We have then try to imagine how this would look in real life, we have to imagine as if a person was eating with four hands in front of us. Here is a video that portrays this. I think it expresses really well that sense of agitation and concern that the painting makes me feel.

What Magritte is eating seems like a pretty simple meal. The painting was made and set in 1952. In this period Europe was in its economic boom and restoration after WWII. Therefore, food was largely available to people. The shortage of food that Europe had had during the war, was now only history.  Magritte here eats a meal that was probably common to many people: meat, vegetables, bread and wine.

I’m going to post two recipes for today’s entry.

Screen shot 2013-11-21 at 3.15.36 PM


One is of a Grilled marinated flank stake, which is close to what Magritte seems to be eating. The other is a video/recipe on how to make homemade baguette. I will definitely try this one out myself!

Then, eat with a side of simple salad and a glass of red wine and you will get the perfect “Magician” meal!

If you like Magritte’s works you should definitely check out the current MoMA exhibition. It’s called “Magritte: Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938” and will be on until January 12, 2014.


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