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Magritte’s disconcertingly deadpan style is seen clearly in these four simply painted scenes, which seem to be indistinguishable apart from the disappearance of the man of the title. They were based on an illustration in a popular health manual. There are slight changes of perspective between the four panels, which add to the disquieting effect, and may relate to the displacement of images in early 3-D viewing devices. This subtle undermining of the everyday was characteristic of Magritte and his Belgian Surrealist colleagues, who preferred quiet subversion to overt public action.

October 2012