Art as Identity

225px-Magritte_TheSonOfMan

This is Rene Magritte’s painting, “The Son of Man.” I bet most people don’t know the name of it, they just know the green apple (which is my fave, by the way). Sorry, no provocative genitalia this week, just a poor guy standing next to a body of water with an apple stuck to his face. What does it mean? Okay, here are two things: Magritte often painted apples in his art, which was classified as “surrealist.” Also, this was a self-portrait painted in 1964. If it had been done more recently, I might have thought there could be a commentary about people with their noses stuck in their phones all the time, but that’s rather simplistic and way out of the timeline.

There are other paintings by Magritte in which objects obscure the face of the subject (a bird, some flowers), and if you look closely at this one, the eyes are visible, especially the one on the right. So there’s some commentary about the parts of ourselves that we hide, and what we choose to show to the world. And then there is an entire religious aspect to the painting, which is primarily apparent because of its name, “The Son of Man,” referring to Jesus. Huh? You see how people can spend their careers talking about this stuff, writing dissertations and making more out of a piece of art than perhaps the painter intended. At least that’s what I think. But what do I know?

I just think it’s a cool painting.

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