Front Cover – Georgette Berger  – Rene Magritte

 The Surrealist cult of objects underlined another aspect of the movement: its belief that le merveilleux - that state of almost sexual excitement which Breton called "convulsive beauty" - was available everywhere, hidden just below the skin of reality. The artist who produced the best evidence for this idea was a Belgian, Rene Magritte (1898-1967). In the midst of a movement which specialized in provocations, attention-grabbing stunts, political embroilments, sexual scandals, ruptures of friendship, and fervid half-religious crises, Magritte seemed uncommonly phleg­matic. He lived in respectable Brussels, and stayed married to the same woman, Georgette Berger, till his death; by the standards of the Paris art world in the thirties, he might as well have been a grocer. Yet this stolid enchanter possessed one of the most remarkable imaginations of the twentieth century.

 Magritte's work serves its modern audience rather as the sultans of Victorian narrative painting, the Friths and Poynters and Alma-Tademas, served theirs - as a source of stories. Modern art has been well supplied with myth makers, from Picasso to Barnett Newman. But it had few masters of the narrative impulse, and Magritte was its fabulist-in-chief. His images were stories first, paintings second, but the paintings were not slices of life or historical scenes. They were snapshots of the impossible, rendered in the dullest and most literal way: vignettes of language and reality locked in mutual cancellation. As a master of puzzle-painting, Magritte had no equal, and his influence on the formation of images - and on how people interpret them - has been very wide.

 Robert Hughes – The Shock of the New