The surrealist artist, René Magritte, is a philosophical favorite because so many of his pictures play with philosophical themes. Yet, less well appreciated, is his painting rests on a substantial theoretical base and a consistent personal effort to address the key philosophical question – through art – of the relationship of language, thought and reality.
In the Second Surrealist Manifesto, René Magritte offers 18 sketches, each illustrating a supposed 3-way relationship with words and reality.
Unlike other artists of the Surrealist school, Magritte’s style is highly realistic – but this is only a meants to later undermine the authority and certainty of ‘appearance’ – of our knowledge of the external world. As Magritte puts it:
“We see the world as being outside ourselves, although it is only a mental representation of it that we experience inside ourselves.”
The series is intended to introduce the theme of all Magritte’s painting, namely that of the ambiguity of the connections between real objects, their image and their name.