- René Magritte
- La Réponse imprévue
- Signed Magritte (upper right)
- Gouache on paper
- 21 5/8 by 14 in.
- 54.9 by 35.5 cm
Mario Tazzoli, Milan (acquired from the above in 1964)
Galerie Brusberg, Berlin
Private Collection (acquired from the above in the 1970s)
La Boetie, New York
Acquired from the above
Paris, Galerie Alexandre Iolas, Magritte: le sens propre, 1964, no. 34
David Sylvester, Sarah Whitfield & Michael Raeburn, eds., René Magritte, Catalogue Raisonné, Gouaches, Temperas, Watercolours and Papiers Collées 1918-1967, London, 1994, vol. IV, no. 1550, illustrated p. 266
The present work is a near exact copy of a 1933 oil of the same title, La Réponse imprévue now in the permanent collection of the Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique. In other variations on this theme, Magritte placed different objects behind the door such as a nocturnal sky, a monochrome black plane or a complex seascape with a tree-leaf and a house. The present work, however, has a simplicity characteristic of Magritte's later work, focusing on a single object or idea. The interior of the room is reduced to the basic elements, the plain wall, simple brown door and hardwood floor, while the scenery seen through the door consists of ominous darkness. Having experimented with a large number of images in his earlier works, in his mature years Magritte arrived at a simplicity and purity that allowed him to focus on a particular idea, thus creating a stronger impact on the viewer. As he explained in a letter to André Bosmans: 'If a simple image is willfully complicated, it is more the result of a concern for fantasy than of a freedom attentive to a real and irreducible complexity. Thus, a door with an opening hollowed out to allow one to go in and out is at once simple and complex. It's out of the question to complicate this image with an overburden of unimportant events merely for the sake of fulfilling some puerile fantasy” (R. Magritte, Letter to André Bosmans, January 2, 1964).