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: © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


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.