René Magritte The Spirit of Geometry 1937

Artwork details

Artist
René Magritte 1898–1967
Title
The Spirit of Geometry
L'Esprit de géométrie
Date 1937
Medium Gouache on paper
Dimensions Support: 375 x 292 mm
frame: 555 x 455 x 33 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Presented by the Hon. Ivor Montagu 1966
Reference
T00892
Not on display

Display caption

Magritte exchanges the heads of a mother and a baby – compressing one and enlarging the other. The effect is at once uncanny, threatening, comic and perceptive. The shrunken mature woman and imposing child may unsettle the viewer but are intimately bonded with each other. Their inverted relationship seems to stand for the cycle of generations. The original title, ‘Maternity’, may have referred too literally to such themes before Magritte provided the current, more enigmatic, replacement.

April 2009

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