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Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago

René Magritte, the playful and provocative Belgian Surrealist who set out to create works that would "challenge the real world" by making "everyday objects shriek out loud," is the focus of a major exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago: Magritte, The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938. The show opens June 24, 2014 and runs through October 13, 2014 in Regenstein Hall. A collaborative effort between three museums, the exhibition will make its final stop at the Art Institute following its premiere at The Museum of Modern Art in New York on September 28, 2013 and its current run at the Menil Collection, Houston.

The period of 1926-1938 was Magritte's most prolific. It was a time of bold experimentation that cemented his reputation as a leading Surrealist painter. The exhibition begins with paintings and works on paper he created in 1926 and 1927 as he prepared for his inaugural one-person show in Brussels. It follows him to Paris in 1927 where he joined Surrealists André Breton, Salvador Dalí, and Joan Miró, and made his breakthrough word-image paintings. After returning to Brussels in 1930, he continued to search for new forms of image-making and three years later, began a remarkable series of paintings that make unexpected, often disturbing, and frequently humorous associations between everyday things.

The exhibition ends in 1938, with Europe on the brink of war, when Magritte delivered his noted autobiographical lecture entitled "La Ligne de Vie" ("Lifeline"), during which he assessed his own development and achievements in Surrealism.

Magritte's innovative image-making tactics during these essential years include doubling, displacement, transformation, the "misnaming" of objects, metamorphosis, and the representation of visions seen in half-waking states.

The exhibition encompasses approximately 118 paintings, collages, and objects, including a selection of photographs, periodicals, and Magritte's early work in the field of advertising. A richly illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition with essays by Gary C. and Frances Corner Curator of Modern Art at the Art Institute Stephanie D'Alessandro, as well as Michael Draguet and Claude Goormans, Josef Helfenstein with Clare Elliott, and Anne Umland.

The Art Institute has long been a strong supporter of Magritte, beginning with a group exhibition of Surrealist artists in 1949, followed by a major retrospective of his work in 1966. Over the years, the Art Institute has added several important works to its Magritte collection. Among the most notable are those that came from the extensive Surrealist collection of noted poet, arts patron and collector Edward James.

In 1937 Magritte accepted a commission from James for three large paintings in the latter's London home, including the Art Institute's own On the Threshold of Liberty. This represented an artistic and professional turning point for the artist. It was his first major commission and the dimensions of the pieces were larger than any he had painted before. This work quite literally gave him an opportunity to present his work on a grand scale.

"Magritte's time in London would have a stimulating effect on his art-and possibly even played a role in his presentation of himself as an artist. In April 1938 he was again in England, now preparing for a solo exhibition at Mesens's London Gallery. A series of publicity photographs for the exhibition show Magritte physically interacting-literally performing-with his works," writes Art Institute curator Stephanie D'Alessandro in an essay in the new Magritte catalogue. "Most telling is one photograph in which the artist-perhaps for the first time-presents himself as the world would come to know him for the rest of his long career, in the dramatic persona of the bowler-hatted man. Posing with the now-lost 1928 painting Le Barbare (The Barbarian), Magritte looks out to the viewer-not unlike his paintings in James's home, beckoning from the other side of a picture frame-inviting us to enter the phantasmagorical world of his art."

Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938 dials back Magritte's fame and unpeels his famous artistic celebrity, going back to the moment that he fixed on the idea of making a new kind of art. The result? Images that are cemented in the public's mind as much for their importance as artworks as for their adoption in popular culture.

"Our city is incredibly fortunate to have a cultural treasure like the Art Institute of Chicago," said Tim Maloney, Illinois President, Bank of America. "We believe art has the singular capability to connect people and communities. We are proud to be a long-time partner on many of their rich and culturally important exhibitions including Magritte. This exhibit will challenge our sense of reality and stimulate an on-going conversation, which Magritte did so well."

Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938 is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Menil Collection, Houston.

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

Funding for the Art Institute of Chicago presentation is generously provided by Helen and Sam Zell and the Auxiliary Board of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Lead Affiliate Sponsor. Additional support is provided by Sylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel and the Prince Charitable Trusts.

Annual support for Art Institute exhibitions is provided by the Exhibitions Trust: Goldman Sachs, Kenneth and Anne Griffin, Thomas and Margot Pritzker, the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation, and the Woman's Board of the Art Institute of Chicago. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

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Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
Photographer unknown. René Magritte and Tentative de l’impossible (Attempting the Impossible), 1928. Gelatin silver print; 22 Ã- 15.5 cm (8 11/16 Ã- 6 1/8 in.). Private collection of Isadora and Isy Gabriel Brachot. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). Clairvoyance (La Clairvoyance), 1936. Oil on canvas; 54 Ã- 65 cm (21 1/4 Ã- 25 9/16 in.). Mr. and Mrs. Wilbur Ross. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
Photographer unknown. René Magritte and Le Masque vide (The Empty Mask), 1928. Gelatin silver print; 17.8 Ã- 24 cm (7 Ã- 9 7/16 in.). Private collection, Belgium. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). The Lovers (Les Amants), 1928. Oil on canvas; 54 Ã- 73.4 cm (21 3/8 Ã- 28 7/8 in.). Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Richard S. Zeisler. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). The Secret Player (Le Joueur secret), 1927. Oil on canvas; 152 Ã- 195 cm (59 13/16 Ã- 76 3/4 in.). Royal Museums of Fine Arts, Belgium, Brussels. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). The Treachery of Images (La Trahison des images), 1929. Oil on canvas; 60 Ã- 81 cm (23 5/8 Ã- 31 7/8 in.). Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles. Purchased with funds provided by the Mr. and Mrs. William Preston Harrison Collection. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). Celestial Perfections (Les Perfections célestes), 1930. Oil on four canvases; 27 Ã- 22 cm (10 5/8 Ã- 8 11/16 in.), 24 Ã- 33 cm (9 7/16 Ã- 13 in.), 35 Ã- 22 cm (13 3/4 Ã- 8 11/16 in.), 33 Ã- 24 cm (13 Ã- 9 7/16 in.). Courtesy Brachot Gallery, Belgium. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). Time Transfixed (La Durée poignardée), 1938. Oil on canvas; 147 Ã- 99 cm (57 7/8 Ã- 39 in.). The Art Institute of Chicago, Joseph Winterbotham Collection, 1970.426. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). The Healer (Le Thérapeute), 1937. Oil on canvas; 92 Ã- 65 cm (36 1/4 Ã- 25 9/16 in.). Private collection. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). The Red Model (Le Modèle rouge), 1937. Oil on canvas; 183 x 136 cm (72 1/16 x 53 9/16 in.). Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). Not to be Reproduced (La Reproduction interdite), 1937. Oil on canvas; 81 Ã- 65 cm (31 7/8 Ã- 25 9/16 in.). Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). The Human Condition (La Condition humaine), 1933. Oil on canvas; 100 Ã- 81 cm (39 3/8 Ã- 31 7/8 in.). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Gift of the Collector’s Committee, 1987.55.1. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
Photographer unknown. René Magritte and Le Barbare (The Barbarian), 1938. Gelatin silver print; 18.8 Ã- 25 cm (7 3/8 Ã- 9 7/8 in.). The Baltimore Museum of Art. Purchase with exchange funds from the Edward Joseph Gallagher III Memorial Collection; and partial gift of George H. Dalsheimer, Baltimore (BMA.1988.440). © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
Raoul Ubac (Belgian, 1910â€"1985). Unidentified Girl and Attempting the Impossible (Tentative de l’impossible), 1928. Gelatin silver print (reversal print); 11.4 Ã- 8.4 cm (4 1/2 Ã- 3 5/16 in.). Private collection. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). The Portrait (Le Portrait), 1935. Oil on canvas; 73.3 Ã- 50.2 cm (28 7/8 Ã- 19 7/8 in.). Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Kay Sage Tanguy. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). The Menaced Assassin (L'Assassin menacé), 1927. Oil on canvas; 150.4 Ã- 195.2 cm (59 1/4 Ã- 76 7/8 in.). Museum of Modern Art, New York. Kay Sage Tanguy Fund. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). On the Threshold of Liberty (Au seuil de la liberté), 1937. Oil on canvas; 238.8 Ã- 185.4 cm (94 Ã- 73 in.). The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of Mary and Leigh Block, 1988.141.10. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). The False Mirror (Le Faux Miroir), 1928. Oil on canvas; 54 Ã- 80.9 cm (21 1/4 Ã- 31 7/8 in.). Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). Attempting the Impossible (Tentative de l'impossible), 1928. Oil on canvas; 116 Ã- 81 cm (45 11/16 Ã- 31 7/8 in.). Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Japan. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). Painted Object: Eye (Objet peint: Å'il), 1932/35. Oil on panel glued to wooden base; 27 Ã- 24.8 Ã- 14.4 cm (10 5/8 Ã- 9 3/4 Ã- 5 11/16 in.). The Art Institute of Chicago, through prior gift of Arthur Keating, 1989.53. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). The Empty Mask (Le Masque vide), 1928. Oil on canvas; 73 Ã- 92 cm (28 3/4 Ã- 36 1/4 in.). Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). Youth Illustrated (La Jeunesse illustrée), 1937. Oil on canvas; 183 Ã- 136 cm (72 1/16 Ã- 53 9/16 in.). Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). The Interpretation of Dreams (La Clef des songes), 1935. Oil on canvas; 41 Ã- 27 cm (16 1/8 Ã- 10 5/8 in.). Collection of Jasper Johns. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). The Use of Speech (L'usage de la parole), 1928. Oil on canvas; 73 Ã- 54 cm (28 3/4 Ã- 21 1/4 in.). Private collection, Los Angeles. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). The White Race (La Race blanche), 1937. Oil on canvas; 81 Ã- 60 cm (31 7/8 Ã- 23 5/8 in.). The Art Institute of Chicago, promised gift of Ruth Horwich. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). The Secret Double (Le Double secret), 1927. Oil on canvas; 114 Ã- 162 cm (44 7/8 Ã- 63 3/4 in.). Centre Pompidou, Paris. Musée national d'art moderne/Centre de création industrielle. Purchase. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). The Meaning of Night (Le Sens de la nuit), 1927. Oil on canvas; 139 Ã- 105 cm (54 3/4 Ã- 41 5/16 in.). The Menil Collection, Houston. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). Illumination (L’illumination), 1937. Oil on canvas; 54 Ã- 73 cm (21 1/4 Ã- 28 1/4 in.). Collection of Sylvia Neil and Dan Fischel. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). This Is a Piece of Cheese (Ceçi est un morceau de fromage), 1936 or 1937. Oil on canvas board, in gilded wooden frame, with glass dome and pedestal; painting: 12.5 x 18.4 cm (4 15/16 x 7 1/4 in.), glass dome and pedestal: h. 31 cm (12 in.), diam. 25 cm (10 in.). The Menil Collection, Houston. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). The Interpretation of Dreams (La Clef des songes), 1927. Oil on canvas; 38 Ã- 55 cm (14 15/16 Ã- 21 5/8 in.). Pinakothek der Moderne, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

Photo Flash: First Look at MAGRITTE: THE MYSTERY OF THE ORDINARY, 1926-1938 at The Art Institute of Chicago
René Magritte (Belgian, 1898â€"1967). The Future of Statues (L'Avenir des statues), c. 1931. Oil on plaster; h. 32 cm (12 5/8 in.). Lehmbruck Museum, Duisberg, Germany. © Charly Herscovici â€" ADAGP â€" ARS, 2014

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