Le miroir universel continues the exploration of a major theme that René Magritte first introduced with La magie noire of 1934. This 1938/1939 Surrealist masterpiece depicts a female form materializing into thin air, night transitioning into day and celestial space becoming interior space. The evening sky evokes the splendor of a truly vast celestial vault, with tiny points of stars enhancing the effect of infinitely deep space behind the moonlit nude female figure, who is based on Magritte’s wife Georgette.
As an idealized form, the nude is a stylistic statement in itself, which Magritte ingeniously refashioned to suit his own purposes. Here, he has transformed his wife into a modern Venus; yet it is the classical depiction of this figure, considered as object rather than true flesh-and-blood that this eerie presence represents. Magritte found the ambiguities and ironies involved in the art of representation to be no less absorbing than those he experienced in life itself. Those dilemmas and dichotomies fueled Magritte’s painting, and indeed became the very substance of his art.