Rene Magritte (1898-1967)
Property from the Private Collection of Johnny Carson
Rene Magritte (1898-1967)

La Joconde

Rene Magritte (1898-1967)
La Joconde
signed, dated and numbered 'Magritte 1967 5/5' (on the top of the base); stamped with foundry mark 'FOND-GI-BI-ESSE VERONA-ITALY' (on the top right side of the base)
bronze with brown patina
Height: 99 in. (251.5 cm.)
Length: 70 in. (177.8 cm.)
Width: 39½ in. (100.3 cm.)
Conceived and cast in 1967
P. Rouve, "Space Conquered," Art and Artists, London, August 1968, pp. 24-27.
R. Melville, "Changing the World," The Architectural Review, London, September 1968, p. 210.
S. Gablik, Magritte, London, 1970, pp. 174 and 178, no. 207 (another cast illustrated, p. 178).
D. Sylvester, ed., René Magritte, Catalogue raisonné: Oil Paintings, Objects and Bronzes 1949-1967, New York, 1993, vol. III, p. 466, no. 1094 (another cast illustrated).
Sale room notice
Please note this work was cast in 1967.

Lot Essay

In January 1967, just seven months before his death, Magritte was struck with the idea to create sculptures based on his most iconic and complex paintings. He translated eight of his paintings into large-scale, three-dimensional sculpture, which allowed him to truly express the incongruent objects and motifs, outlandish juxtapositions and larger-than-life nature of his works. The present sculpture is based on his painting La Joconde, 1960, a work that consists of three auspicious freestanding curtains, one filled entirely with soft clouds and blue sky--making the curtain at once completely transparent and atmostpheic yet providing a cloak of mystery about what lies beyond--along with a sperical form with a split at the center, a motif which often appears in Magritte's oeuvre (fig. 1; Sylvester, no. 922). Magritte incorporated this curtain motif in many paintings and drawings throughout the last decade of his life (fig. 2).

Filled with ambiguity and intrigue, Magritte's works attempt to lend visibility to our subconscious thought, but the artist was adamant that he did not seek to convey any hidden symbolism in his work: "To equate my painting with symbolism, conscious or unconscious," Magritte insisted, "is to ignore its true nature. By asking, 'what does this mean?' they express a wish that everything be understandable. But if one does not reject the mystery, one has quite a different response. One asks other things" (in "Les Mots et les images," La Révolution Surréaliste, 15 December 1929; quoted in S. Gablik, Magritte, New York, 1985, p. 11).

(fig. 1) René Magritte, La Joconde, 1960. Private collection, Paris.

(fig. 2) René Magritte, La Joconde, 1962. Patrimoine culturel de la Communauté française de Belgique.

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