Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

The Eternally Obvious

Artist:
René Magritte (Belgian, Lessines 1898–1967 Brussels)
Date:
1948
Medium:
Oil on canvas mounted on board
Dimensions:
Overall: 78 x 24 x 1 3/8 in. (198.1 x 61 x 3.5 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection, 2002
Accession Number:
2002.456.12a–e
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Not on view
This work is a variant of a prototype made nearly twenty years earlier, now in the Menil Collection, Houston. Both were created in the same manner: Magritte first painted a nude portrait of his wife, which he then cut into segments, framed, and reassembled onto glass. These works exist between painting and sculpture, and Magritte referred to them both as "objets" (objects) and "toiles découpés" (cut-up paintings). By dividing the body into five self-contained sections, Magritte paid tribute to and challenged the traditional female nude. Typically Surrealist, The Eternally Obvious plays with perception, asking the viewer to reconstruct mentally a whole body from discreet parts.
Inscription: Signed (lower left, under foot): Magritte
the artist (1948–49; on consignment March 1948 to Alexander Iolas; sold in August 1949 to Iolas); [Alexander Iolas (Hugo Gallery), Paris and New York, 1949–probably 1963]; [Hanover Gallery, London, 1963–64; sold in 1964 to Janss]; Edwin Janss Jr., Los Angeles (1964–d. 1989; his estate sale, Sotheby's, New York, May 9, 1989, no. 38C, sold to Matisse); Pierre Matisse, New York (d. 1989; stock no. 8872); his widow, Maria-Gaetana Matisse, née von Spreti, New York (1989–d. 2001); Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation (2002; gift to MMA)

New York. Hugo Gallery. "Magritte," May 4–29, 1948, brochure no. 17.

Copley Galleries. "Magritte," opened September 9, 1948, no. 11.

New York. Sidney Janis Gallery. "Challenge and Defy: Extreme Examples by XX Century Artists, French and American," September 25–October 21, 1950, no. 12.

New York. Hugo Gallery. "Magritte," March 20–April 11, 1951, brochure no. 39.

New York. Iolas Gallery. "René Magritte," March–April, 1953, no catalogue.

New York. Iolas Gallery. "René Magritte," March 25–April [13?], 1957, no catalogue.

Dallas. Museum for Contemporary Art. "René Magritte in America," December 8, 1960–January 8, 1961, no. 20.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "René Magritte in America," February 2–March 5, 1961, no. 20.

Knokke. Casino Communal. "L'oeuvre de René Magritte," July–August 1962, not in catalogue.

Milan. Galleria Schwarz. "Magritte," December 6–31, 1962, no. 3.

Rome. L'Attico. "Magritte," January 9–25, 1963, no. 2.

Geneva. Galerie Alexander Iolas. "Magritte," October 7–31, 1963, no catalogue.

London. Hanover Gallery. "René Magritte," May 14–July 10, 1964, no. 3.

Humlebaek. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. "René Magritte," October 15, 1983–January 8, 1984, no. 75.

Høvikodden. Kunstsentret, Soja Henies og Niels Onstads Stiftelser. "René Magritte: Paintings and Photographs," January 21–March 11, 1984, no. 66.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. "Magritte," June 20–October 27, 1996, no. 20.

Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels. "René Magritte, 1898–1967," March 6–June 28, 1998, no. 158.

Humlebaek. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. "Magritte," August 6–November 28, 1999, no. 48.

Edinburgh. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. "Magritte," December 22, 1999–March 26, 2000, no. 48.

Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Fondation Maeght. "Le nu au XXe siècle," July 4–October 30, 2000, no. 79.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Surrealism: Desire Unbound," February 6–May 12, 2002, not in catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection," May 18, 2004–June 26, 2005, no catalogue.

Paris. Mona Bismarck Foundation. "Pierre Matisse, passeur passionné: Un marchand d'art et ses artistes," October 20, 2005–January 14, 2006, unnumbered cat. (pp. 114–15).

Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Magritte and Contemporary Art: The Treachery of Images," November 19, 2006–March 4, 2007, unnumbered cat. (p. 119).

Museo Picasso Málaga. "La Colección Pierre y Maria-Gaetana Matisse en The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nueva York," March 26–June 24, 2007, no. 20.

Tate Liverpool. "René Magritte: The Pleasure Principle," June 24–October 16, 2011, unnumbered cat. (p. 77).

Vienna. Albertina. "Magritte: Das Lustprinzip," November 9, 2011–February 26, 2012, unnumbered cat. (p. 39).

S. L. C. "Art News." Challenge and Defy 49 (October 1950), p. 49, ill.

Cyril Connolly. "Surrealism." Art News Annual 21 (1952), pp. 130–31, ill.

Twenty-five Years of Janis. Pt. 1, From Picasso to Dubuffet; from Brancusi to Giacometti. Exh. cat., Sidney Janis Gallery. New York, 1973, p.l. 115 (installation view of Exh. New York 1950).

Bernal Marcadé. René Magritte: Attempting the Impossible. Brussels, 1992, p. 57, ill. p. 56, erroneously listed as Menil Foundation Collection, Houston.

David Sylvester. The Silence of the World. Houston and New York, 1992, pp. 193–96.

David Sylvester and Sarah Whitfield. René Magritte: Catalogue raisonné. Vol. 2, Oil Paintings and Objects, 1931–1948. Houston, 1993, pp. 152–53, 158, 399, no. 640, ill. p. 398.

Robert Hughes. The Portable Magritte. New York, 2002, p. 427, ill. p. 266.

Sabine Rewald in "Selections from the Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 61 (Spring 2004), p. 54.

Holland Cotter. "Matisse the Son, Illuminating His Father's Legacy." New York Times (2004), p. E25.

David Minthorn. "Met Unveils Gifts from Matisse Son." Deseret News (May 23, 2004).

Louise Nicholson. "A Man of Infinite Taste: The Met has Bagged a Major Treasure in the Pierre Matisse Collection." Apollo 160 (October 2004), p. 85.

Sabine Rewald. The American Matisse: The Dealer, His Artists, His Collection. The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection. New York, 2009, pp. 68–69, 155, ill. (color).

Ian Walker in Magritte A to Z. Ed. Christoph Grunenberg and Darren Pih. Exh. cat., Tate Liverpool. London, 2011, pp. 77, 80, ill. (color), dates it 1930 and 1948.

Darren Pih in Magritte A bis Z. Ed. Christoph Grunenberg and Darren Pih. Exh. cat., Tate Liverpool. Vienna, 2011, pp. 38, 270, ill. p. 39 (color).



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