RENE MAGRITTE (1898-1967)
RENE MAGRITTE (1898-1967)
RENE MAGRITTE (1898-1967)
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RENE MAGRITTE (1898-1967)

Sans titre

RENE MAGRITTE (1898-1967)
Sans titre
signed 'Magritte' (lower right)
pencil on paper
16 ½ x 11 5/8 in. (41.8 x 29.6 cm.)
Alexandre Iolas Gallery, New York.
William N. Copley, New York and Longpont-sur-Orge, France.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, New York, 19 May 1983, lot 258.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Further Details
The Comité Magritte has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

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Lot Essay

Executed by Rene Magritte circa 1965, Sans titre, captures the essence and ethos of the artist’s late oeuvre. Dating from a period largely dominated by a turn to abstraction, the present work epitomizes Magritte's unfaltering dedication to the viability of figurative art and image-making. Despite the unrestrained non-objective art rising in popularity at the time, Magritte returned to his long-established iconography and signature quasi-academic style to further question “all of the absurd and intellectual habits” that we generally assume to be true (Magritte quoted in C. Haskell, René Magritte: The Fifth Season, exh. cat., San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2018, p. 52). Known for rendering everyday objects, or, more aptly, representations of everyday objects, in inconceivable circumstances to challenge his audience’s notion of the quotidian, the present work by Magritte takes this one step further in its experimentation with the laws of gravity and aspect ratio.
Sans titre is a meticulous drawing of an oversized apple floating among the clouds, hovering just above four domed monoliths. Centering the enlarged fruit in the uppermost pane of the tightly cropped composition, Magritte creates a tension that directs the viewer’s focus up toward the supernatural element in the sky, rather than to the central point of the picture. The present work has several elements in common with Le fils d’homme (Sylvester, vol. 3, no. 999), 1964, most clearly the apple motif, ominous sky, and stripped back composition. In reference to this painting, Magritte said “Those of my pictures that show very familiar objects, an apple, for example, pose questions. We no longer understand when we look at an apple; its mysterious quality has thus been evoked” (quoted in H. Torczyner, Magritte: Ideas and Images, New York, 1977, p. 170).
As the legend holds, an apple falling is said to have been key in Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery of universal gravitation. While Magritte’s distorted fruit defies this principle, by contrast, the four stones in Sans titre clearly adhere to the laws of gravity. Defined by their heaviness, immobility, and permanence, the rocks are juxtaposed against the weightless fruit. As in the present work, Le droit de chemin (Sylvester, vol. 3, no. 1039), painted by Magritte in 1966, shares the inquisitive quality that Magritte consistently brought to his work. By enlarging piece of fruit to dramatic proportions, again Magritte disrupts one’s understanding of the scene, imbuing that which is mundane with a strange, otherworldly quality.
Unlike many of Magritte’s earlier works, Sans titre is a modest and somewhat direct drawing, though the role of each subject is nonetheless ambiguous. This meditative work on paper invites the viewer to consider interpretations of the scene without offering any concrete or definitive meaning. Perhaps alluding to Newtonian physics, Sans titre exemplifies the artist’s affinity for creating a union between unrelated objects to challenge his audience's preconditioned perceptions of reality. With this drawing, Magritte underscores the antirational poetics of his unique brand of surrealism, all the while leaving one the autonomy to make of it what they will.

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