Rene Magritte

Magritte's Contributions to the Art World

'The Treachery of Images (This is Not a Pipe)' 1929 LACMA

"I can't speak for the entire art world, but can say a little bit about the art MUSEUM world, which is what I'm more familiar with.  I would say generally that Magritte falls into the category of artists who become so popular with the public that museum professionals tend to become a bit cynical about them, to the extent that their actual talents become eclipsed by their popularity.  Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, and Salvador Dali are other examples of this phenomenon.  With Magritte, I think many people working in museums would acknowledge that his work is interesting and was important in its own time, but they do not find it quite as important now because many think he did not develop much as an artist once he came upon his signature style. In addition, Surrealist works in general, and Magritte's work in particular, are used for many commercial purposes and have become so well-known that it's hard to see the original works with fresh eyes because they have become so familiar to us (think of men in bowler hats, for example)." Kara Kirk, Publishing Deprtmant MOMA New York

Magritte's work has recently been exhibited at LACMA and is currently on exhibition at "The Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City from 3/17 through 7/11 2010."  I also saw an original work of his, Les Valeurs Personnelles (Personal Values) 1952, oil on canvas, on our recent trip to the San Francisco art museums.  Recently, "pieces representing most of Magritte’s post-1930s work have found their way to auction. Following the death of Georgette Magritte, Sotheby’s London hosted the break-up of the artist’s studio on 2 July 1987 and set the first record prices at auction. The market’s current favourites are his works from 1950-1960. Magritte’s body of work is complete: around 1,110 paintings, and numerous gouaches and drawings. Collectors can also find painted bottles selling for USD150,000-200,000 or sculptures — USD85,000 for La race blanche, a 52 centimetre bronze cast like most of his sculptures in 1967, the year he died. In the last ten years at auction, paintings made up 19% of lots sold, with prints making up 39% and drawings and watercolours 35%. An oddity of the Magritte market is that the top ten sales in the last decade include no less than four versions of L’Empire des Lumières. In 1996, one went in London for USD3.5 million. In May 2002 another, from 1952, fetched USD11.5 million in New York, the highest price ever paid for a Magritte."