Sleepworker (Time Magazine article 1948)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 3:15:59 AM

Sleepworker (Time Magazine article 1948)
Monday, Jun. 21, 1948

Moon-faced Rene Magritte is convinced that he works mostly in his sleep. As soon as he wakes in the morning, he splashes his dreams on canvas before the memory fades. He is a gentle little man, "an animal lover, and I dislike terrorism, as I worship pleasure and charm."

Snatches of Magritte's dream world, shown in Paris last fortnight, proved as pleasing as ever. Magritte, a surrealist with a sense of humor, cares little for the Freudian froufrou that once made his colleagues seem different and daring. His paintings often mean just what their titles say: Sea Sickness—a green, checkered coat crumpled beneath the glare of a garish orange sun; The Last Meal—a macabre scene of a candlelit room, in which tears drop from nowhere and a woman brings a dying man an indigestible last supper of wine, a carrot and a hard-boiled egg.

Another Magritte shows a young woman emerging from a telescoped torso that stands against a sky of blocks and cottony clouds (see cut). It is called The Lesson of Things. What did it mean? Oh, said Magritte, that was just a dream about the present: each torso section represents a past generation. But at 49, Belgian Surrealist Magritte is not always so sure of his own symbols: "You will notice that the egg plays an important part in my pictures. I do not know why. You will also notice a rose. I don't know why. Perhaps I shall discover later. Sometimes I hate symbols . . ."

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