A René Magritte Parody: Is This an Invisible Cat?

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Rene Magritte’s Invisible Cat and why you can’t see him… Walking into a room of Rene Magritte’s paintings is like entering a workout gymnasium for your brain. Nothing expected happens with Rene Magritte, even when you expect the unexpected.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

By David Stone

Assorted Ideas, Large & Small

René Magritte’s Invisible Cat

One of Magritte’s most famous paintings is of a simple pipe against a plain background. Beneath the image is an inscription: Ceci n’est pas une pipe. Translated: This is not a pipe. And, of course, it’s not. It’s a picture of a pipe. That’s not just word play, it’s a way of jiggling your mind out of established patterns.

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The Invisible Cat / © Deborah Julian

 Other surrealist and impressionist artists may make you think. Magritte forces you to. Or you can just leave the room.But why leave when the art is so easy to enjoy?

Many of his paintings are beautiful, like La cuerda sensible (The Chord), where a cumulus cloud rests atop a giant glass that dominates a semi-arid plain. Others, like the baffling La condicion humana (The Human Condition), poetically challenge your perception of reality.

In almost every instance, no matter how challenging, Magritte creates a painting so pleasing to look at, you are willing to go the next step and think about it.

Think about it you will, too, and you will probably still think about it after you’ve left the gallery and are trying to concentrate on something else. Magritte finds his way into your subconscious, because that’s where the real conversation takes place.

As the most playful of surrealists, Magritte digs beneath the surfaces that you believe in to set your imagination running in the absurd world behind it. Often, it’s a world of dreams or one of doubts stuffed back from conscious awareness. He believes in a world of masks in which things are greater than they appear to be. Fears, wishes and everyday assumptions prop it up.

Twisted Logic Behind Magritte’s Invisible World

One of the most startling facts about The Invisible World, which Magritte painted in 1954, is that, less than ten years earlier, the artist supported himself by painting fake Picassos. In the post World War II period, he also raked in cash by printing fake bank notes with his brother, Paul. You can see where invisibility might be an advantage.


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