Our exhibition, René Magritte: The Pleasure Principle is now open at Tate Liverpool.

Here you can see over 100 paintings alongside drawings, collages, examples of Magritte’s commercial designs, as well as rarely seen photographs and films. The exhibition will include iconic paintings by the artist including Golconda (1953) and The Pleasure Principle (1937) as well as some more surprising works, offering visitors a fresh insight into the intriguing world of Magritte.

Magritte Tell us what you think Press
Darren and Christoph, curators of René Magritte introducing journalists to the exhibition
Magritte Tell us what you think Pleasure Principle
René Magritte, The Pleasure Principle 1937, on display at Tate Liverpool

We are enormously excited about this exhibition and encourage you to post your comments and messages about René Magritte: The Pleasure Principle here on the Tate blog.  I look forward to reading them.

Darren Pih, co-curator René Magritte: The Pleasure Principle



I'm not usually moved to blog but the trip from London we planned specifically to see the Magritte exhibition was very much worth the effort. The exhibition was superbly curated with enough known pieces but also an insight into Magritte and his life - his day job of commercial art and his wonderfully surreal films and photos. There were so many pieces from private collections - thank you so much Darren Pih and Tate Liverpool for letting us see them. Yet another exhibition which makes me glad that I'm a Tate member but shame there's not a Members' Room in Liverpool.

Andrew Walker

My wife and I travelled up from London to see the Magritte exhibition and we have to say that all the travelling was worthwhile. A fantastic overview of his life and work. With the wind and rain battering the roof and windows, an altogether surreal experience. If I had one slight criticism it would be that the lighting, in places, caused reflections which made it difficult to see some aspects of the exhibits. However the depth of this exhibition was superb. Our first time to the Tate Liverpool and a thoroughly enjoyable day.

James Wood

Really enjoyed the Magritte exhib. Obviously he was mad-but-harmless and was a skilful painter too, well worth looking at. What would have helped would be for the texts relating to the pictures to be in a font at least twice the size, to save people crowding round or walking in front of others viewing the pictures. Some of the curatorial comment was far too screamingly precious, might go down well at a dinner party in Islington, but out here in the normal world we don't need it. When are you going to do an exhibitionn on Futurism ? I visited one at the Tate Modern two years ago and would like to see one here in the north.

robin hartwell

I have been to the Magritte exhibition three times and took in some different things each time. A really interesting mix of the world famous and iconic with the less familiar (and sometimes not so successful? Vache period, well...) The last room with the dominion of light pictures was the most magically hung and lit room I have ever seen in an exhibition. Worth a visit for that alone.


Tim Evans

Enjoyed last night - great, well done again. Don't forget to check out the clock.......

Stephan Aal

The exhibition was much bigger than I expected ... it was good to see so many of the originals of images that have become so iconic and often over-reproduced.

I knew nothing about his 'vache' period... I have tried painting in the 'Fauve' style myself, so this was a revelation to me.

I made copious notes and my sketchbook is definitely fatter now with little images and quotes.

I spent a long time with 'Time Transfixed' ... Taking the opportunity while it was there because I shall probably not see the original again.

Thank you for the exhibition and the many ideas it has presented me with.

Richard Hackett

Going all the way to Liverpool seemed like a lot of trouble to go to an exhibition. But we were not disappointed. A truly fabulous exhibition that gave fresh insight into an artist I already thought I knew well. It was not crowded so it was possible to view the works closely - and there were lots of them. It was a great day. Many thanks.

Stephen Fallows

Second visit to the show and was as breathtaking as the first. I covered Magritte for a project when I was at college and have been waiting for this show for ages. Very informative and covered all periods and work he did. Plan to visit again before the end of the week and fully take everything in. Liked the way it covered the progression in his career, and after seeing his commercial work, it sparked a conversation about how art influences everything around us and still to this day is as important. Such as the way street art has eventually become accepted by popular culture after being controversial much in the same way surrealism was first thought of.

John Hilton

I spoke briefly with Darren at last nights almost final view, the naming of the pictures done collaboratively and the mental image of Magritte putting his suit on to paint added another dimension to the exhibition. The more discussion and exchange of ideas via this media, the more alive Magritte's work becomes.

Ned Thacker

Excellent exhibition - I was surprised at how comprehensive it was, and went back the next day for a second look. A lot of paintings from private collections made it unmissable

Keith H

The Rene Magritte Pleasure Principle exhibition is well named. It certsainly pleased me and often made me smile. I am a great fan of Miro's surrealistic Constellations etc but the cool wry vision of Magritte's work both conveyed and recreated the artist's pleasure. My favourite, if I must select one, was "This is a piece of cheese" which added 3 props to the painting of a piece of cheese. Great fun! I'd recommend folks to visit this show - the sculptures on the ground floor are also worth a visit to see.

Flora Maire Teu...

I live since 3 years near London. It was my first visit to Liverpool, hence my first visit to Tate Liverpool. The warehouse windows from which you can watch the Meyser, Birkenhead, an iconic view on the Pier Head are like a "clin d'oeil" to the visitors and one can't help thinking of the silent dialogue between the Empty Mask and the window views.

The enigmatic yet global reach of Rene Matisse has always attracted me and it was a pleasure to discover more of the artist, his impeccable writings, his taste for Fantomas, pictures of his surrealist circle, his schoking imagery for Bataille, fantastic art he has left us to comtemplate.

I was wondering which sky(ies) have inspired him, it can't be the Belgium ones. Could it be English ones? he stayed a bit in London and I always think of Magritte when I stare at the sky on my way back home to Queensberry house along the Thames in Richmond.


Frank Cookson

Thank you for an excellent exhibition, the themed rooms worked really well and the selection of works on display was most enjoyable.

In particular the commercial pieces, films and photographs gave an interesting counterpoint to his more serious work.

One very minor criticism was the signage; works often would have benefited from translations(in particular the sketches), placement of some of the larger wall info was at the natural end of a viewing rotation rather than the beginning-I thought was a surrealist joke that maybe we were supposed to view the rooms in an anticlockwise direction. Finally most of these blocks of copy weren't straight!(it could be those old walls at the Albert Dock!

As others have stated Klimt, Picasso and now Magritte fantastic to see these exhibitions up north thank you Tate Liverpool.

Vaughan Clark

I thought the Magritte exhibition was phantastic. I've loved his work since my teens (I'm now in my 50s) but still discovered new stuff. I hadn't realised the extent of his advertising and commercial work and hadn't realised the amount of repitition in his work (not a criticism). I also enjoyed seeing his films!

My only criticism of the exhibition is the way in which the illustrations for Georges Bataille have been 'hidden away'. Why are we so worried about sex? Nobody is worried by slaughtered bulls so why do we get worked up about penis heads?

A great exhibition. Go see it!

PS the Tate Liverpool is an excellent gallery. I love the fact that its smaller than the Tate Modern. I managed to see everything in a single day and it contained some great stuff!

Ms Pat Garrett

Absolutely loved the exhibition and was lucky to catch the last 2 hours on a Sunday so it wasn't crowded. Tate Liverpool is such a great location for a gallery. Just wish that the lighting for it had been a bit better! There were times when the only way of really seeing some of the work was by standing at an angle to them - not ideal..... but maybe that's what Magritte would have wanted ;-) Loved the films too :-) Took me 6 hours to get there but well worth the trip :-)

Mike Hobbs

Great exhibition, well curated, and beautifully displayed. I found Magritte's work much more interesting and varied than I had anticipated; and was impressed by his technical proficiency as well as his vivid, irreverent imagination. Liverpool seemed the perfect venue!

We were puzzled though by his almost complete lack of reference to the political events of the time, particularly the war and its aftermath.

The Therrien exhibition was a compelling, if all too short, companion.

Marcus Crompton

I visited the exhibition on a free afternoon, and enjoyed it so much I was back four days later with my wife! Like most people, I've come across individual artworks by Magritte before, but this exhibition really did make a statement in its variety and the way it is organised. I came away not only with a much better idea about Magritte's art, but on both occasions, having had a hugely enjoyable time which is still with me now. Congratulations on an excellent exhibition.

Phil Howard

I really enjoyed the exhibition. However, my return train was delayed so I wrote the following ditty for want of something better to do:

'I don't need a Reneé Magritte To say what happens down our street Isn't all that the eye will meet

Or to make it his artistic mission To show that the quirks of cognition Define our Human Condition.

And whilst raining men in city togs Tend not to swell our local bogs I have seen it rain cats and dogs.'

Okay Carol Ann Duffy wouldn't be impressed, but I suppose my point is the one made by a reviewer in one of the broadsheets: Plato got there over two millenia earlier - so what's new? All the same, it's good to see work where both sides of the artist's brain have been fully engaged. And, as a mate of mine once said about Magritte, 'the boy could paint a bit'.

Roy Sinclair

The exhibition was a real eye-opener - seeing some works familiar through so many art books in real life and then all the rest. The exhibition was a five star one and worth the trip to Liverpool. It was suprising to see that Magritte reproduced many of his works time and time again for collectors and that the later paintings seemed to be suffering more from deterioration (e.g. Cracks in the layers of paint in the Domain of Light images ) than the earlier versions and in some ways also seemed to lack the tension of the earlier or original versions - and to be able to clearly see how the the brushwork changed was an added wow. What was more noticeable is that despite falling out with the Surrealists and others, this multiple reproduction of works with canvasses that were not radically different to the original does not seem to have come in for any level of criticism from the art world in the way that criticism from the late 50s onwards was applied to Dali despite the fact that with Dali, images were never simply reproduced but were reworked into canvasses that were radically different or explored different concepts. The exhibition was beautifully laid out spacially and lit appropriately to show off each set or section to its best and gave real extra insight into the world and mind of Magritte. More please !!

Marc Whittaker

great exhibition and I was pleasantly surprised by the number of works from outside of europe, having seen them in New York in the last twelve months. A real coupe for Liverpool and comparable to a trip to the Musee Magritte in Brussels


Large and comprehensive show, but I found the room captions unintelligble. And why do curators put picture captions four feet off the ground in dark corners, where only one person at a time can bend down and see them? The A-Z was no substitute for a catalogue so I didn't buy.

Brenda Rouse

Tate Liverpool surpassed itself with this exhibition. We came up from London specifically to visit the exhibition and found it to be very well curated, although it raised more questions than answers! Having said that, what I learnt from the guided tour we took on a second visit to the gallery during the trip, was that, sometimes, there aren't any answers to be found! Magritte's work is just simply enigmatic.

The gallery itself is just lovely, and the whole experience surpassed our best expectations.

Lillian Adams

Magritte is the third exhibition I have visited at Tate Liverpool, the previous ones being Klimt and Peter Blake. They have all been excellent, and I thoroughly enjoyed all of them. The exhibition space is perfect, and the building and place on the dock just add to the enjoyment. It was a pleasure to see so much of Magritte's work pulled together in one place. Now I'm looking forward to Turner-Monet-Twombly next year.

Ross Selavy

6/10. Missing some key works., such as "The Rape" and the portrait with an aplle replacing a face. Rather gloomy, especially when it was so sunny outside. I would like to see more of Magritte's commercial work

Sunil Manghani

I visited the exhibition with my 7-year old daughter. We had a lovely day. She really enjoyed the exhibition - she was both drawn to and apprehensive about The Menaced Assassin! We also made 'Magritte Feet' [http://www.facebook.com/tateliverpool?sk=photos]! ...the exhibition takes the phrase 'The Pleasure Principle' as its subtitle (which is the title of one of Magritte's paintings bought by Edward James). I can understand the English connection... but I think 'Not to be Reproduced' would have been a more apt subtitle. Issues of signification, simulation, repetition and translation seem to me the real key to Magritte's work.

Roger Kidley

I visited the Magritte exhibition on a day trip from London a couple of days before it ended. It was the most enjoyable art exhibition I have been to for some years. The themed arrangement worked well for me. I was already a fan of Magritte's better know works, but there was plenty on display which was new - and mostly interesting - to me. Saving most of the famous works for the last rooms worked for me, though I wonder if some visitors made a dash for the end.

The staff whom I met were friendly, helpful and enthusiastic. If the show had been in London, where I live, I would have visited several times - my Tate membership card needs to be used more.

If I were to change anything it would have been outside the gallery. There were several windows in the galleries where I took a few minutes rest and looked at the view, mostly over the Albert Docks towards the city. I would love to have seen some bowler-hatted Magritte figures on the nearby rooftops, in a Gormley-esque homage to Magritte - or perhaps Piers Brosnan posing in his Thomas Crown Affair outfit... too late now.

It was my first visit to Liverpool so I also visited the Walker Gallery and took a look at Liverpool's splendid buildings (and tried unsuccessfully to ignore some more recent eyesores).

A fine day out! Thanks Tate Liverpool!

Jackie Cooper

Excellent exhibition which covered many aspects of his career and drawing together popular and lesser known works. I took the guided tour (something which I have never done before) and particularly commend this. Bob was very knowledgeable, informative and his relaxed and personable style was very entertaining. Thank you

Chris Hansen

My partner, my three friends, and I enjoyed the show. I do wish that a Magritte show could come to London as the trip up to Liverpool from London was a trial and the weather wasn't with us yesterday. I particularly enjoyed his commercial artwork. Thanks for hosting the show.

michael theobald

I came from London especially to see this Magritte exhibition (passing a massive street music event on my way from Lime Street station) and enjoyed all of what I saw on display at the Tate immensely - including what was hidden behind the foreboding black curtain!! How could he?! I am a deaf Tate Member (all galleries) and would like to know if this show will come to London at some point.

Stewart Harrison

I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition. I can't recall ever before laughing out loud at works of art (in an appreciative rather than a critical way!). There is so much humour in the works (and their titles) that I hadn't picked up on before. And especially in the photographs there was such a sense of fun that I've not always found in other Surrealists. I also like the catalogue's encyclopaedia format, lots of enjoyable cross-referencing. One minor request - could the original French titles of the works have been added to the captions? Sometimes these contain puns or ambiguities that add to the painting.


I posted a blog about this exhibition on: http://culture-connect.net/

The efforts gone into bringing all of these works together was very much appreciated, but I did struggle to understand how they were organized.

Adrian Thomas

My first time at Tate Liverpool. I've been a fan of Magritte for years and saw the 1969 Arts Council exhibition, whose catalogue has since become well-leaved. The Tate show was very well laid out, with many new pieces among the familiar images. I particularly liked the commercial insights, though the videos (I watched them all!) seemed a bit lame; curious rather than illuminating. A great show, and well worth the day-trip.

My major quibble was with the choice of postcards - just two by the last Friday (were there more earlier?) - and the 'catalogue'. I think it was a brilliant new twist to organise it as an A-Z, but it fails on one key level. The cross-referencing of WORDS is enthusiastic (perhaps overly so): an initial index, bold references within entries and 'see also' word-links at the end of entries.

But the IMAGES are left to fend for themselves. They float like Magritte's clouds and boulders, largely detached from the entries. There's no attempt at cross-referencing with either other images or the text entries. Artistic this may be, but it is immensely frustrating and quickly deters any attempt by the reader to link image with text. It would have been so easy to have used a 'see' cross-referencing system under each image. A great pity, because this failing mars an otherwise handsome achievement.

Kath D

We were very much looking forward to seeing the Magritte exhibition. We enjoy our visits to the Tate very much and this was the case on this ocassion also.Me and my husband tend to view on our own and discuss our thoughts every now nd then as we go along.We both found some of he images challenging as expected and enjoyed the flow from room to room, finding the layout useful and the information posted on wals useful as always. The initial rom was darker than others reflecting I thought at the time the sombre images potrayed. However having read some of the other comments realise the low light may have proved problematic for some. For me it set my mood to 'low' and as I progressed my mood was lifted as the images before me changed as Magritte himself changed. We found it all very disturbing/challenging (in a good way) and feel it is definitely worth the visit. We went to see the Miro shortly after and felt yet again that we do fantastically well for art exhibitions - well done Tate!

Deborah Persaud

We made the trip to Liverpool from Londion especially to see the exhibition - an outstanding collection and the way the pieces were co-ordinated was helpful in telling Magritte's ow story, particularly for my son who is learning about artistic influence. I'm afraid, though, that I strugged with the low lighting- I found the large print catalogue helpful but had difficulty seeing some of the work, which was a shame. And no Magritte umbrellas in the shop! (not least because it was raining hard outside)

Roger S

Visiting the exhibition was a bit like picking up a favourite old album and playing it. Nearly every picture seemed familiar, but there was something new to discover that hadn't stood out in the past. I had used Magritte in teaching for many years to demonstrate ambiguity, juxtapositions, scale etc., and had found he was well received. I have always like "The Threatened Assassin" so I knew I was onto a winner when it was there: Like the assassin I was safe in the exhibition away from everything that bothers one, engaged in music/art for a while. The other very well know piece was the Barber Institute's contribution, a sort of methamophic life cycle which I have seen often, but in the context of the exhibition I was able to do compare and contrast with its twin: this changed its context for me. The video, like many videos did not hold my attention for long but I was interested in the photographs as a completely new element, and I had no Idea about the graphic work at all. With the hindsight of Pop Art these were object I would have happily walked off with. Probably the most beautiful work were the nighttime-daytime images, and well done for lowering the lighting to increase the impact of these. An enjoyable exhibition, safely keeping me interested away from reality.

John Rooth

I love the surrealists, and Magritte is one of the best. This was a superb exhibition, full of humour. Pity that there was no accompanying audio as there usually is for the London exhibitions. I was delighted to be in Liverpool anyway, so didnt have to make a special trip from London. Liverpool is an excellent city of the arts. The other Tate galleries were very interesting, as is the Walker art Gallery.

Brian Beamish

The best exhibition bar none I've yet attended. I was so excited to see so many works I'd not encountered before; not even in the Musée Royaux des Beaux Arts or the many books on Magritte I've collected over the years. We made the trip from London (wish it had been there as I would have been back and back, but I'm glad for Liverpool as it's a lovely city) and it was worth every penny of the train fare. Nothing about Magritte leaves me cold - he has a unique imagination and a dark sense of humour. Please bring this to London!

Liz MacGarvey

I loved this exhibition. The way it was curated made me feel that I was in the company of someone who wanted me to see Magritte anew -and who knew a lot about him and his contemporaries. It was fresh and thought-provoking. Thank you.

Jeremy Poynting

A splendid mind-bending exhibition set out very helpfully, and brilliant that this quality of display is available in the North. Apart from seeing some of the familiar pieces close up and "real", two paintings in particular stood out for me: one was ?The Perils of Sleep (not sure if that was the title), which really brings home the indeterminacy of signs and meanings in a way that goes beyond the more intellectual statements of some of the smaller paintings where Magritte makes this point in a more direct, statemented form; the other was one of the paintings in the series of daylight/night time paintings, which looked as if it was backlit, and realising the effect is in your mind. One thing (I may have missed something in the exhibition about it) I was interested to know was what Magritte knew about French linguistics (Saussure) etc.

Jean Bove

A wonderful exhibition and amongst the top 3 ever at Tate. A long way to drive to see it but worth every penny spent on fuel and accommodation, it deserves to be seen by the nation, take it to London and Cornwall. JBove

Martyn Wilkinson

Came up specially from London and made a weekend of it by also taking in the Lancashire Panopticons.

I've always found the images interesting so it was a real treat to see the actual paintings. They're so familiar, yet seeing them on the wall as an actual object rather than just as a plate in a book, you realise just how odd some of the scenes actually are. I also started to appreciate a lot more about the depth of the man - especially how he kept body and soul together by always having a 'proper' job. Also interesting was the split between the French and Belgian surrealists - I'm sure his work was much more creatively independent thanks to that.

A totally wonderful exhibition with one minor criticism: I would have liked either an audio guide or an iPhone app to guide me round the pictures. I know there was a guided tour, but bad experiences as a child have put me off them so I didn't try it.

George Young

An excellent exhibition, much larger than we expected and well worth the 200 mile trip. The themed rooms made it very easy to understand how his art had developed. The examples of his commercial work were an especially insightful bonus. The soft porn was just funny (ha, ha) and perhaps not worth including for that reason. Possibly not quite the place to mention (but I will) the highchairs in the Tate cafe had bits of dried on muck on them. That was bit of a let-down.


Dear John, It was good to chat to you on Friday - really glad you enjoyed our Magritte exhibition. Many thanks, and best regards, Darren

Roger Sibley

My first visit to Liverpool Tate (and to Liverpool since University days in 1960's). Great to see Magritte Exhibition as part of a wonderful and professional Gallery. I'll be back...

Colin Adams

Took in the exhibition during a weekend in the North West and really glad we did. It made me think a lot about not taking everything at face value and I will probably never look at a pipe and an apple quite the same way again. The rooms were well arranged and it is good having the windows on to the river or the dock. At one point I was looking at the Vache paintings and next to them was a window with a grey sky and a grey river. One of the most interesting exhibitions at any of the Tates for some time. Well done.


I really enjoyed the exhibition, thought the way the rooms were themed and the chance to get into Magritte's head with his letters and sketches was brilliant. On a few occasions I wished my french was better as there were things not translated that I didn't understand. But it's definitely the most comprehensive Magritte exhibition I've seen.

Gill Howells

Came to a conference in Liverpool and was trying to find a suitable time to go AWOL in order to see the Magritte exhibition when, on an evening walk I found the doors open for Tate members. I quickly whipped out my members card and not only saw the exhibition, but had a glass of wine and listened to John Snow's talk. Wonderful and unexpected evening and an exhibition which left me laughing out loud. Must try and find some more conferences in Liverpool!


Having enjoyed the work of Magritte that I have seen over the years, I was inspired to make the trip to Liverpool with a friend to see this exhibition. We both enjoyed it enormously. The art is fantastic--intriguing, beautiful but always with a twist, often quite amusing. The way that the exhibition was arranged and the artifacts that were included also gave us a much better picture of Magritte as a person. I will definitely recommend it. This was also a first trip to Liverpool for both of us, and I would recommend a good look at Liverpool and its museums as well.

Greg Gordon

I was surprised at the size of the exhibition. Looking back to a catalogue the 1992 show at the Hayward, which went on to the MOMA was no larger. I also enjoyed the Picasso and the 2 hour train journey to Liverpool from London is well worth while if only to visit the Tate

Ian Bride

Loved the exhibition - particularly the range of material

Would have liked to have seen more interpretation of the images - from experts and enthusiasts