The Belgian surrealist artist Rene Magritte is one of the most enigmatic and ambiguous artists, whose work has always caused a lot of questions. One of his most famous works is “The Son of Man” (1946). At the moment, there are many attempts to interpret the symbolic implication of a painting, which art historians often call an intellectual provocation.
Each picture of Magritte is a rebus, making you think about multiple hidden meanings. Their number depends solely on the imagination and erudition of the beholder: the combination of images and the names of the pictures set the viewer on a search for a clue that in fact may not exist. As the artist himself said, his main goal is to make the viewer think. A similar effect is produced by all his works, so Magritte called himself “a magical realist.”
Magritte – a master of paradoxes, he sets the tasks that are contradictory to logic, and the search for ways to solve them leaves the viewer. The image of a man in a bowler hat is one of the central in his work, he became a symbol of the artist himself. A paradoxical object in the picture is an apple, suspended in the air right in front of the person’s face. “Son of Man” is the quintessence of the concept of “magical realism” and the peak of Magritte’s creativity. Everyone who looks at this picture is born with very contradictory conclusions.
The picture “Son of Man” Magritte wrote in 1964 as a self-portrait. The title of the work refers to biblical images and symbols. As the critics wrote, “the title of the picture is due to the image of the modern businessman who remained the son of Adam, and an apple that symbolizes the temptations that continue to haunt man in the modern world.”
For the first time, the image of a man in a coat and in a bowler hat appears in “Reflections of a lonely passer-by” in 1926, later repeated in the film “The Meaning of the Night.” In the 1950s. Magritte again returns to this image. His famous “Golconda” symbolizes the one-sided crowd and loneliness in it of every single person. “Man in the bowler hat” and “Son of man” continue to reflect on the loss of individuality modern man.
The human icon in the picture is covered by an apple – one of the most ancient and polysemantic symbols in art. In the Bible, the apple is the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, a symbol of the fall of man. In folklore, this image was often used as a symbol of fertility and health. In heraldry, an apple symbolizes peace and power. But Magritte, apparently, appeals to the original senses, using this image as a symbol of temptations pursuing a person. In the furious rhythm of modern life, a person loses the individuality, merges with the crowd, but can not get rid of the temptations that block the real world, like an apple in a picture.
However, we should not forget that the artist himself was skeptical of any attempts to interpret his paintings, to search for the hidden meanings and to decipher symbols. But “intellectual provocations” make spectators do it again and again.
In our days, the “Son of Man” Magritte has become an artifact of mass culture, this image is endlessly replicated, parodied, transformed in advertising and the media. In the work of Magritte’s creativity, many followers.