1000 Books In 10 Years; Vol. 79: Magritte, by David Sylvester

Being a fan of Magritte, I am always seeking entrance into the many fascinating painting which he made, but I am also interested in him as a person, in his thinking and how his personal experiences shaped his thought process and art. This books offers neither. Instead of interesting biographical information, or insights into Magritte’s work, Sylvester offers a biography of Magritte’s business dealings with various galleries and art dealers, while detailing trivial disagreements with fellow artists and rather than offering insight into Magritte’s work, Sylvester offers dismissive criticisms to some of Magritte’s most interesting pieces, or positive value judgements without detailing the reasons as to why one painting is better than or inferior to another. Sylvester flies through the period during WWII, which one would imagine shaped Magritte’s world view and art, and quickly goes through Magritte’s quasi-impressionist and Fauve periods, which were dismissed by critics at the time, an aspect of the artist which parallels the experimental stages of other artists who explore other avenues of their field with little or no support from the public world. I was reminded specifically of when Neil Young had spent the better part of a decade receiving horrendous reviews for explorations into Do-op, blues, country and electronic music. The book is beautiful as it is filled with high gloss replicas of many of Magritte’s most famous works, and some of the less notable but equally impressive of Magritte’s pieces, but one would get more enjoyment out of looking at the images than they would reading the dull and repetitious narrative concerning Magritte’s business relationships.

Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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