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September Sixteenth

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René Magritte
Lessines 1898 - Schaarbeek 1967
(1956)
oil on canvas
115 x 88 cm
Inventory number 2843

A crescent moon is superimposed on a tree, rather than in the surrounding sky. Alongside the sphere, the pipe, the flute, water and clouds, the crescent is a recurring motif in the oeuvre of René Magritte. The Belgian Surrealist invariably rendered such elements plainly, but in strange or playful combinations that continue to fascinate to this day. The image in September Sixteenth is both trivial and impossible, and hence quite disconcerting.
René Magritte enjoyed a classical arts training at the Brussels Academy, but he was not a naturally gifted. It was only when he submerged himself in the Surrealist movement in Paris that he began to shine. Magritte became a master at depicting the mysterious. He confronted his viewers with an art that disrupts reality. Clever ideas form the basis of images that are intended to jolt our minds. On 20 November 1938, Magritte opened his lecture on 'La ligne de vie' or 'The line of life' at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp with the question: Who are we? That same question lies at the heart of September Sixteenth.

A friendly turn

Magritte liked to question his friends about his work, and he encouraged them to make up titles for his paintings. These titles were never intended to explain the work, but rather to enhance the sense of mystery. It was Magritte's close friend, the Surrealist poet Louis Scutenaire, who suggested the title September Sixteenth.

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