78
78

PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTOR

René Magritte
L’ÉLOGE DE L’ESPACE
JUMP TO LOT
78

PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTOR

René Magritte
L’ÉLOGE DE L’ESPACE
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Surrealist Art Evening Sale

|
London

René Magritte
1898 - 1967
L’ÉLOGE DE L’ESPACE
signed Magritte (lower right)
oil on canvas
81 by 116cm.
31 7/8 by 45 1/2 in.
Painted in 1927-28.
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Provenance

Galerie L’Époque, Brussels (acquired from the artist)

Galerie Le Centaure, Brussels (acquired from the above in 1929)

Edouard-Léon-Théodore Mesens, Brussels (acquired from the above in 1932-33)

Thence by descent to the present owner

Exhibited

Brussels, Galerie Isy Brachot, Magritte: cent cinquante œuvres; première vue mondiale de ses sculptures, 1968, no. 33

Hamburg, Hamburger Kunstverein und Kunsthaus, René Magritte und der Surrealismus in Belgien, 1982, no. 120

Rome, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Magritte e il surrealsimo in Belgio, 1982, no. 119

Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, René Magritte et le surréalisme en Belgique, 1982, no. 134

Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Magritte 1898-1967, 1998, no. 54, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Literature

Paul Nougé, René Magritte ou Les Images défendues, Brussels, 1943, mentioned p. 241

Marcel Mariën (ed.), La Partie fondue de l’iceberg, Brussels, 1979, illustrated p. 84

David Sylvester (ed.), Sarah Whitfield & Michael Raeburn, René Magritte, Catalogue Raisonné, London, 1992, vol. I, no. 196, illustrated p. 256

Catalogue Note

The enigmatic title of the present work, as with the majority of them, was suggested by one of Magritte’s friends – the Surrealist poet Paul Nougé. In 1943 Nougé produced a monograph on Magritte in which he wrote about the present painting: ‘One muses over the identical objects, over the possible repetition of the more unusual of them, over the way things have of filling the expanse and the sudden apparition of the terrifying masks of “the end of contemplation” and the women’s bodies closely entwined, which represents “the adulation of space”’ (quoted in David Sylvester (ed.) & Sarah Whitfield, op. cit., p. 256).

Magritte’s idiosyncratic form of Surrealism emerged in the middle of the 1920s, following a short flirtation with Cubist and Futurist art. The Surrealist techniques and mechanisms espoused by Breton and his followers were primarily concerned with elucidating dream-like imagery and manifesting the sub-conscious. Magritte's approach eschewed these notions; his art would be wholly rational, and informed by ‘lines of research’, which Paul Nougé categorised as ‘isolation of an object by the frame or some other means; more or less apparent distortion; modification of the substance of the object; change of scale; change of décor’ (quoted in Magritte (exhibition catalogue), The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, 1996, p. 18). In L’éloge de l’espace Magritte has introduced several of these types of manipulation. The repoussoir effect of the amorphic grey structure surrounding the figures frames the truncated forms and obscures the viewer’s perception of scale. Other works from the late 1920s such as La Démon de la perversité (fig. 1) and Découverte (fig. 2) similarly pervert the natural scale and appearance of objects, whilst retaining an incontrovertible sense of rationality which is preserved by Magritte’s trompe l’œil technique.

In 1920 Magritte was introduced to Edouard-Léon-Théodore Mesens by their mutual acquaintance Karel Maes at the first exhibition of the artist’s Cubo-Futurist work organised by the Centre d’Art in Brussels. Mesens was a man of numerous talents and occupations – a musician, poet, critic and gallerist – who was to become Magritte’s most vociferous supporter and promoter. In the mid-1920s Mesens and Magritte published the short-lived reviews Œsophage and Marie and contributed to the last edition of Francis Picabia’s Dadaist revue 391. Having partly abandoned his musical career Mesens set about selling and promoting avant-garde art, first at the Galerie Manteau, and later at Paul-Gustave van Hecke’s Galerie L’Epoque in Brussels. Mesens and Van Hecke became the principal dealers in Magritte’s work, and as such they sold L’éloge de l’espace to the fated Galerie Le Centaure in 1929. Soon after the sale the Galerie Le Centaure was forced to close and the stock liquidated and Mesens was able to buy a number of paintings, including the present work. In 1938 Mesens left Belgium and opened The London Gallery (backed by Roland Penrose), with a debut solo exhibition of Magritte’s greatest and latest works. Although the gallery closed in 1950, Mesens continued to champion his friend’s work and retained a large collection of his most important paintings for his own pleasure. L’éloge de l’espace has remained with his family until the present day.

Surrealist Art Evening Sale

|
London