|Courtesy of www.ReneMagritte.org|
Black Magic is one of Magritte's best nude paintings. He painted several other versions including some under a different titles ( "The Magnet" and also "The Dream"). His painting of the lovely Georgette features her upper torso blending with the color of the sky
Magritte's earliest oil paintings, which date from about 1915, were Impressionistic in style. From 1916 to 1918 he studied at the Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, under Constant Montald, but found the instruction uninspiring. The oil paintings he produced during the years 1918-1924 were influenced by Futurism and by the offshoot of Cubism practiced by Metzinger. Most of his works of this period are female nudes.
The model for this series was the artist's wife, Georgette Berger. Georgette is painted in a classical manner, with her figure abiding by the laws of beauty and proportion and resembling a marble sculpture as much as a live model. This traditional representation, however, is juxtaposed with the unexpected coloration of the figure, whose upper body gradually acquires the tone of the sky behind her. In nearly all paintings from this group, the woman has one hand resting on a block of stone. As Magritte himself proclaimed: "One idea is that stone is associated with an 'attachment' to the earth. It does not rise up of its own accord; you can rely on its remaining faithful to the earth's attraction. Woman, too, if you like. From another point of view the hard existence of stone (...) and the mental and physical system of a human being are not unconnected"
The nude is always depicted either with her eyes closed, or with her head turned away from the viewer or, as in the present work, with blank eyes resembling those of a sculpture, t hus becoming the object of the spectator's gaze and erotic desire. "Magritte said, in fact, that an undercurrent of eroticism was one of the reasons a painting might have for existing. It asserted itself most intensely and explicitly in these stately classical nudes with their cool coloring. For the very reason that it aims at maximum resemblance, their academicism is upset by the provocation of mystery emanating from that identification, once the painting and the arrangement of the painting interfere with its course. The prime example is Black Magic.
In a letter to Paul Nouge of January 1948, Magritte wrote on the subject"I am searching for a title for the picture of the nude woman (naked torso) in the room with the rock. One idea is that the stone is linked by some Affinity to the earth, it can't raise itself, we can rely on its generic fidelity to terrestrial attraction. The woman, too, if you like. From another point of view, the hard existence of the stone, well-defined, 'a hard feeling,' and the mental and physical system of a human being are not unconnected".