Fans of René Magritte, surrealist art, and those with nothing to do at the weekends are all flocking to the newly opened René Magritte museum next door to the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels.
If you work in EU circles surrealism will be a part of your average working day, but back in the mid-twentieth century a businessman with an apple for a face would have raised more than a few eyebrows.
Magritte’s famous symbol of a pipe with the words “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (this is not a pipe) can be viewed either as a profound statement on the nature of language (e..g it’s not a pipe, it’s a painting of a pipe) – or just a pretentious statement.
In other pieces he paints objects in unusual positions (e.g. a train emerging from a fireplace) or labels them with incorrect names, although as The Lobby’s companion pointed out, Magritte was still using conventional words. Why not just do what the EU does so well and make up words? (Such as comitology? Or co-decision? Magritte would have learned a lot from the Commission…)
The gallery itself is laid out extremely well on several floors, the dark light helping to bring out the artist’s work and use of colour.
The audioguide however is a disappointment. Unless you take a great interest in the continuous and apparently vicious struggles between the French and the Belgian surrealists (and who doesn’t?), you can save your money and spend it instead in the excellent café in the main museum. We particularly recommend the cactus and wood shavings (e.g. sausage and chips).