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The Hidden Woman

Painting

Author

By (artist) René Magritte

Description

Oil on canvas from 1929, painted by Magritte during his stay in Paris.

Painting signed on bottom right: "Magritte"; and titled on the back of the frame: The Hidden Woman with the word "(Breton)" written.

"Magritte moved to Paris in 1927 where, after several encounters, he participated in the surrealist meetings at rue Fontaine, or at the cafés where they often convened. He was accepted into the surrealist group between April 1928 and February 1929. Magritte's Parisian stay, even if it didn't last more than three years, was an intense time of productivity." (According to José Vovelle, Surrealism in Belgium, Brussels, André de Rache, 1972, pp. 69-71)

For the publication of "Inquiry into Love" in the twelfth issue of The Surrealist Revolution, Magritte imagined a montage of his painting, The Hidden Woman, with the portraits of sixteen surrealists with their eyes closed, bordering the painting. The surrealists pictured (from left to right and top to bottom) were: Alexandre, Aragon, Breton, Bunuel, Caupenne, Dalí, Eluard, Ernst, Fourrier, Goemans, Magritte, Nougé, Sadoul, Tanguy, Thirion, Valentin.

This inquiry concerned the "idea of love, capable of reconciling any man, momentarily or not, with the idea of life." "This word: love, which jokers strive to generalize, to corrupt (brotherly love, divine love, patriotic love, etc.) [...] it is useless to say that we use the word here in its strictest sense, giving restitution to its utmost power over a human."

Responses were anticipated from "those who had a true understanding of the drama of love (not in the sense of puerile suffering but in the pathetic sense of the word)."

Among the responses gathered from the inquiry, was that of Breton, concerning the idea of love versus the act of loving, which was closely linked to the signification of Magritte's painting: "It is about discovering an object, the only one which I judge indispensable." This object is hidden: we act as if we are children, we begin by wading "in water," (then) we "burn". There is great mystery in the discovery possible." ("Inquiry into love" in: The Surrealist Revolution, No. 12, Fifth year, December 15th, 1929, pp. 65-76)

Of the "profound sense of Magritte's painting invoked by its strange inscription - which plays, of course, on the well known assertion of the "tree that hides the forest," here intended as the "Eternal Feminine" hidden behind each individual woman." Ferdinand Alquié suggests a seductive explanation in Philosophy of Surrealism (Philosophie du surréalisme, Flammarion, Paris, 1955, p. 207): "Since each object, even evident, appears first to hide its true reality: it reveals itself only to our undivided attention. This is what Magritte's composition translates to the viewer, imposing the image of a naked woman, blatant to our eyes, and encircled with the words: 'I do not see the ... hidden in the forest.'" Presentation and commentary written by José Pierre, preceded by a text written by André Breton, Surrealist Tracts and Declarations (Tracts surréalistes et déclarations collectives 1922-1939, Tome I, 1922-1939, Paris, Eric Losfeld Éditeur, 1980, pp.425-426).

According to David Sylvester, on the state of the painting: "if (the image) has faded its because the painting has badly deteriorated. It has darkened considerably over the years. Breton wanted to clean it and a large part of the layer of paint disintegrated. Much later, a restorer stopped the deterioration and left the painting in the state which we see today. (But) what I call a bad deterioration, should rather be called a miraculous transfiguration. The deterioration that happened to the Hidden Woman is maybe the most fortunate misfortune that has ever taken place to a work of modern art since the breaking of the Large Glass by Duchamp. There, where the body (of the woman) had decomposed into a web of cracks, a golden glow emanated from the interstices. These cracked and luminous areas of the painting create the same effect as the scaling surface of an ancient icon."

"Friction and disagreements marked the relationship between Breton and Magritte without damaging the profound esteem they held for each other." Patrick Waldberg (René Magritte, Bruxelles, André de Rache, 1965, p. 223)

In "The Importance of René Magritte," text written in 1964, Breton reiterated an earlier homage to the creator of The Hidden Woman:

"The sovereign originality of Magritte was to bring his investigations and his skill to the level of these objects, which are on some level, primitive, as also, these sites (pastoral, wooded, cloudy, maritime or mountainous), combining as closely together as possible - where their immense power exists - the naive image that we keep of them, (from) our first "lessons of things"- and these last words are always those that come to mind in memory of him ... But its precisely at this level, also, that "a strike of the magic wand," in the original sense, that this locution for us is no longer profane, (for) Magritte, all by flattering with his hand these things that reveal a relative reality, if it be, finds a way to liberate the latent energies they hold...

"Magritte is the first who, starting from the humblest of objects ever known - as Mrs. Ashton has proposed - on its point of flight, has wanted to embrace all that could be discovered beyond its surface appearance. Its therefore that he placed himself in the optimum conditions to play in tandem l'analogon by Constantin Brunner, alternating between the "relative reality" supplied by the senses and the "absolute reality" that is desired by the mind. These two oscillating realities, created to control and to equalize one another appears to illustrate to me the most complete acceptance of the Human Condition (another title suggested by Magritte and therefore, according to him, the least corrupt that could exist).

"The work and the thought of René Magritte never forgets the doorway open to the antipodes of this zone of facility and of resignation that one understands by the name "clear-obscure." He took the care to separate the "subtle" from the "thick," following that no transmutation is possible. It needed all his audacity to attack this problem: to extricate simultaneously the shadow from what is light, and the light from what is shadow (L'Empire des Lumières, 1952). The violent robbing of popular opinion and conventions, as soon as we speak of the enlightened, is what I praise in the work of René Magritte, as most people have assumed too quickly to have seen the stars in the diurnal sky."

"In all his work, Magritte illustrates what Apollinaire has called "the veritable good sense, meaning, that of great poets." André Breton, Surrealism and Painting (Le surréalisme et la peinture, Nouvelle édition revue et corrigée, 1928-1965, Paris, Gallimard, 1965, pp.401-403).

Reciprocally, Magritte never ceased to recognize in André Breton, this voice, which held the highest hopes, manifest in texts such as the Manifestoes, Nadja, Fata Morgana, Full Margin and others, kindling a poetic fire in so many young hearts and fertile minds." Patrick Waldberg (René Magritte, Brussels, André de Rache, 1965, p. 224). [Auction catalogue, 2003]

 

Bibliography

- « Enquête sur l'amour », in : La révolution surréaliste, n° 12 - cinquième année, 15 décembre 1929, rep.p. 73, pp. 65-76
- Marcel Mariën, Les poids et les mesures, Bruxelles, 1943, p. 61
- Gilbert Ganne, « Qu'as-tu fait de ta jeunesse ? » in : Arts, spectacles, n° 560, du 21 au 27 mars 1956, rep.p. 8
- Lettre de Magritte à Rapin du 14 avril 1958, in : Quatre-vingt-deux lettres de René Magritte à Mirabelle Dors et Maurice Rapin, Paris, Mirabelle Dors, Maurice Rapin, 1976, s.p.
- Lettre de Magritte à Alquié du 11 juin 1953, in : René Magritte, Écrits complets, Paris, André Blavier, 1979, p. 448
- Lettre de Magritte à Breton du 5 juin 1961
- Lettre de Magritte à Breton du 27 juin 1961
- Marcel Lecomte, « l'univers des lettres et des mots dans la peinture de René Magritte », in : La revue graphique, décembre 1965, p. 295
- Patrick Waldberg, Chemins du surréalisme, Bruxelles, Editions de la Connaissance s.a., 1965, rep. n°6
- José Vovelle, Le surréalisme en Belgique, Bruxelles, André de Rache, 1972, pp. 69-71
- Philippe Audoin, Les surréalistes, Paris, Seuil, 1973, rep.p. 175
- « La femme surréaliste », in : Oblique, n° 14-15, rep.p.59
- José Pierre (présentation et commentaires de), précédés d'un texte d'André Breton, Tracts surréalistes et déclarations collectives 1922-1939, Tome I, 1922-1939, Paris, Eric Losfeld Editeur, 1980, rep.p. 131, pp. 425-426
- Gaëtan Picon, Le surréalisme, 1919-1939, Genève, Éditions d'Art Albert Skira, 1983, rep.p. 146
- David Sylvester, « The great surrealist icon », in : Res, spring-autumn 1984, pp. 155-157
- Ragnar von Holten, Toyen, En surrealistisk visionär, Köping, Lindfors Förlag, 1984, rep.p. 30
- Robert J. Belton, « Edgar Alan Poe and the surrealists'image of women », in : Woman's Art Journal, Knoxville, Tn., spring/summer, 1987, p. 10
- Paris, Musée national d'art moderne - Centre Georges Pompidou, André Breton, la beauté convulsive, 1991, rep.p. 193, p. 275
- David Sylvester, Sarah Whitfield, René Magritte, Catalogue raisonné, volume I : Oil Paintings, 1916-1930, Paris, Flammarion, Menil Foundation, 1992, rep. n°121, rep.p. 330, n° 302, p. 110, pp. 330-331
- Gérard Durozoi, Histoire du mouvement surréaliste, Paris, Hazan, 1997, rep.p. 166
- Briony Fer, David Batchelor, Paul Wood, Realismo, racionalismo, surrealismo, El arte de entreguerras, Madrid, Ediciones Akal, 1999, rep. n° 162, p. 183
- Sue Taylor, Hans Bellmer, the anatomy of anxiety, Massachusetts, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2000, rep. n° 8.11, p. 164
- Londres, Tate Modern, Surrealism desire unbound, 2002, rep. n° 166, pp. 174-175

 

 Une vidéo de l'exposition La Subversion des images commentée par Clément Chéroux

Creation date1929
LanguagesFrench
Physical description

73 x 54 cm (28 3/4 x 21 1/4 in.) - Huile sur toile

Size73,00 x 54,00 cm
Copyright© ADAGP, Paris, 2005.
Reference2014000
Breton Auction, 2003Lot 4045
Keywords, , ,
CategoriesModern Paintings
Set[Exhibitions] 1938, International Exhibition os Surrealism, [Journal] La Révolution surréaliste
Exhibition1938, Exposition internationale du surréalisme
Permanent linkhttps://www.andrebreton.fr/en/work/56600100382980
Exhibition place

See also

7 Works
 
False

Photo Booth Portrait

-
non identifié

-

Photo booth portrait of Paul Éluard taken circa 1929 to frame Magritte’s painting, I Do Not See the Woman Hidden in the Forest.

[Exhibitions] 2009-2010, Subversion of the images, Beaubourg

False

Photo Booth Portraits

-
non identifié

-

Part of the photo booth photography used by Andre Breton to frame Magritte’s painting, I Do Not See the Woman Hidden in the Forest.

[Journal] La Révolution surréaliste

False

Photo Booth Portraits

-
non identifié

-

Part of the photo booth photography used by Andre Breton to frame Magritte’s painting, I Do Not See the Woman Hidden in the Forest.

[Exhibitions] 2009-2010, Subversion of the images, Beaubourg

False

Photo Booth Portraits

-
non identifié

-

Ten photo booth photographs taken circa 1929, used by André Breton to frame Magritte’s painting, I Do Not See the Woman Hidden in the Forest.

[Journal] La Révolution surréaliste

False

Photo Booth Portraits

-
non identifié

-

Ten photo booth photographs taken circa 1929, used by André Breton to frame Magritte’s painting, I Do Not See the Woman Hidden in the Forest.

[Journal] La Révolution surréaliste

False

Photo Booth Portraits

-
non identifié

-

Ten photo booth photographs taken circa 1929, used by André Breton to frame Magritte’s painting, I Do Not See the Woman Hidden in the Forest.

[Journal] La Révolution surréaliste

False

Photomatons

-
non identifié

-

10 tirages de photomatons utilisés par André Breton pour encadrer le tableau de Magritte, Je ne vois pas la femme cachée dans la forêt.

Dix images, une notice à compléter, une exposition, une bibliographie, des liens à poser.

[Exhibitions] 1991, boîte archives bleue, Beaubourg