On the initiative of the Magritte Foundation, the enigmatic and poetic world of René Magritte will be captured in crystal sculptures in this, the year that marks the 125th anniversary of the artist’s birth. In creating such unique and exquisite pieces, Lalique is ensuring that the imaginative power of these original works lives on in the modern era.
Although René Magritte and René Lalique never met in person, they were a perfect match. René Lalique was a daring innovator who felt free to express himself in the medium of glass; Magritte invented his own artistic language, which he elaborated along with fellow poets and musicians. It made him instantly recognizable as one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.
Mention the name of Magritte today and the first images that spring to mind are a pipe, an apple and a bowler hat. It is precisely because of the prominence and iconic nature of these objects in the artist’s oeuvre that Lalique chose to recreate them in crystal. I am proud of the result, which unquestionably pays due respect to the work of René Magritte, a painter of immense stature, and does justice to the greatness of the artist René Lalique. Apart from sharing the same forename, they were both blessed with timeless talent.
Silvio Denz, Chairman and CEO, Lalique S.A.
For the first time, works of René Magritte come to life in a new form through the medium of crystal. The Lalique Art collections now boast six pieces which combine the surrealist painting of Magritte with the glassmaking genius of Lalique.
LE PRÊTRE MARIÉ
Magritte painted at least a dozen pictures of apples wearing masks. He was fond of this theme and was often asked to paint it. He created his first version of an apple in a mask for the cover of View magazine in 1946. Later, his apples sometimes appear as singletons, sometimes in pairs, sometimes under a daytime sky with the title La Valse hésitation (The Hesitation Waltz), and sometimes under a night sky, in which case they bear the title Le Prêtre marié (The Married Priest).
LE BAIN DE CRISTAL
The giraffe standing tall in a crystal glass is inspired by a gouache entitled The Cut-Glass Bath. Magritte had first conceived this image in 1946 to illustrate a set of poems by Paul Éluard, Les nécessités de la vie et Les conséquences des rêves, précédés d’Exemples (Life’s Necessities and the Consequences of Dreams, Preceded by Examples). Magritte made a second version that same year, in a style borrowed from the Impressionist movement, especially Renoir. He sought to add joy, pure colour and sunlight to enliven the drab post-war period and forget the dark years of wartime. His exact reproduction of the pure colours was masterly, while preserving the specific characteristics of the materials, ranging from velvety to glossy, silky to shiny.
Lalique’s crystalware perfectly captures Magritte’s stylistic essay, specific to his “Renoir period”. It pulls off the subtle feat of associating sanded crystal with polished, in exactly the way the painter would have wanted. The crystal gleams, while the giraffe has a docile look. The scale is exactly right because, in the original picture, the trees in the background make the goblet look huge enough to accommodate the giraffe. The Lalique sculpture gives the onlooker the very same impression, since the first thing they see is an outsize glass.
LA TRAHISON DES IMAGES
By now, the tobacco pipe image had become famous among the painter’s works thanks to La Trahison des images (The Treachery of Images), the masterpiece he painted in 1929. His pipe is highly realistic and the inscription beneath it, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (this is not a pipe), aptly illustrates one of Magritte’s principles: “… In a painting, the words are of the same substance as the images”. One day he sent Michel Foucault a copy of the work and wrote on the back, “The title does not contradict the drawing; it affirms it in a different way”. When Marcel Mariën published Magritte’s first monograph, in 1943, Magritte had planned to include a picture of this work but changed his mind, fearing that, in occupied Belgium, it would get him consigned to an asylum. La Trahison des images had a wide and immediate impact, especially in Paris, where Salvador Dalí recorded his enthusiasm in a Spanish journal. To this day, La Trahison des images remains a standalone embodiment of Magritte.
LE BOUCHON D'ÉPOUVANTE
Of the objects created by Lalique, the bowler hat is the only Magritte work which exists in the form both of a painting and of an object. Created a few days apart, both works are entitled Le Bouchon d’Épouvante (The Horror Cork). Incidentally, the man in the bowler hat is as evocative of Magritte himself as of his work. The painter used to wear this hat to town, as many photographs affirm. Interestingly, before making the object, Magritte asked the collector commissioning it to pay in advance. Marcel Mabille received a detailed letter from the painter accompanied by a drawing. He then went out and bought the appropriate hat and the requested labels, which Magritte later signed. The artist also took the time to describe how to present the hat. Thus, the task of Lalique quite naturally forms part of a process in which Magritte might, by no great stretch of the imagination, have been an accomplice.
There is no disputing that the result is respectful of the oeuvre of a peerless painter, René Magritte, and aligned with the tradition of a peerless artist, René Lalique. Both share the same first name; both share a timeless talent. The Lalique crystal creations take up the iconic subjects of the oeuvre of Magritte. There is a degree of adjustment, but also respect for the intentions, processes and research inherent in its work.
Born in Lessines, Belgium, in 1898, René Magritte is one of the most famous artists worldwide.
After a debut influenced by Futurism, he became a founding member of the Brussels Surrealist group in the mid-1920s.
When Magritte discovered the works of Giorgio De Chirico, his painting gradually assumed the features which make it immediately identifiable: subjects taken from everyday life, executed in what the painter called “a universal style in which an individual’s obsessions and foibles no longer count”. While the objects are depicted with clarity, the meaning of his compositions defies logic. In his painting, Magritte describes that mystery which he dubbed “the unknowable.”
In 1927, the artist settled near Paris, which enabled Magritte to get to know the Surrealists, especially Max Ernst, whose painting was a lasting inspiration to him.
Two years later, Magritte created his most famous work: La Trahison des images, which depicts a tobacco pipe above the caption “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” [this is not a pipe]. The picture is one of a series with word captions which explore the relationships between objects, the words which designate them and the images that represent them.
International success came in the USA. From 1947 onwards his paintings were shown regularly in New York. Then, in Paris in 1948, a provocative exhibition of what was called his “cow period” gave Magritte his revenge on the Paris art world which had been so slow to admit his worth.
In 1965-1966, a retrospective organized at MoMA in New York and later in other American galleries, attested to the recognition he received in his lifetime, a reputation which has grown constantly since the painter’s death in 1967. Major exhibitions have multiplied while the tributes to his oeuvre bear witness to his enduring influence. With a higher profile than ever before, the images created by Magritte never cease to inspire.
Magritte & Lalique
The pieces will be available between April and June. Please contact the nearest Lalique boutique for more information or contact our customer service via the following link.