Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938

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Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938 explores the evolution of René Magritte’s work from 1926 to 1938, an intensely innovative period in which he developed key strategies and techniques to defamiliarize the familiar—to make, in his words, “everyday objects shriek out loud.” During this time the artist was closely aligned with the Surrealist movement, and his uncanny depictions of ordinary objects constituted an important new direction in Surrealist art. Bringing together around 80 paintings, collages, and objects, along with a selection of photographs, periodicals, and early commercial work, the exhibition offers fresh insight into the beginnings of Magritte’s extraordinary career as a modern painter and Surrealist artist. In addition to works from MoMA’s collection, the exhibition includes many loans from public and private collections in the U.S. and abroad. Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938 at MoMA is organized by Anne Umland, The Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Curator of Painting and Sculpture, with Danielle Johnson, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture. The exhibition is organized by MoMA, The Menil Collection, and The Art Institute of Chicago, and travels to The Menil Collection from February 14 to June 1, 2014, and to The Art Institute of Chicago from June 22 to October 12, 2014.

The first-ever concentrated presentation of Magritte’s early Surrealist works, Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938 begins with paintings and collages Magritte created in Brussels in 1926 and 1927, in anticipation of and immediately following his first one-person exhibition at the Galerie Le Centaure, which launched his career as Belgium’s leading Surrealist painter. It follows Magritte to Paris, where he lived from 1927 to 1930 in order to be closer to center of the Surrealist movement, and concludes in 1938, the year Magritte delivered “La Ligne de vie” (“Lifeline”), an important autobiographical lecture that provided an account of his career as a Surrealist.

Bank of America is the National Sponsor of Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938.

Major support for the MoMA presentation is provided by the American Friends of Magritte, Inc., and by The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art.

Additional funding is provided by the MoMA Annual Exhibition Fund.

This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Support for the accompanying publication is provided by Charly Herscovici.