Beyond Gobbledigook

Rene Magritte, The Voice of Silence, 1928. Oil on canvas, 57 cm x 73 cm; Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA.

Posted in Uncategorized by Jessica on November 26, 2009

Rene Magritte, The Voice of Silence, 1928. Oil on canvas, 57 cm x 73 cm; Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA.

Usually, I really dislike surrealism. There is something about it that I find about it to be disingenuous, as though this glossy film is placed on top. It might be because surrealism did stem from Dadaism, which was an inherent rejection of the ideas of “art,” while still creating art. In that sense, I found surrealism to be somewhat mocking and not as inviting as other styles of art.

However, this past Friday, for my Roman Art: Hadrian to the Late Antiquity class, we took a small field trip to the Worcester Art Museum. I was expecting it to be a small, little town museum, with around three rooms, but it surprised me. It was pretty large and had a great collection of work. We went to mainly look at their floor mosaics that were on display in the main room. But after an hour or so with the curator, we had about an hour of free time.

In the very last room, I found this Magritte painting, The Voice of Silence. It’s the Worcester Art Museum’s first surrealist painting. What immediately caught my eye was the immense amount of black on the left side–and looking closely at it, it was completely black. Not just extremely dark grey, but completely black. And just looking into the black space made me, almost feel afraid–as though something was going to jump out.

I just feel this ominous sense from the painting, as though there is someone in the dark room, but we, as the viewer, just don’t know. And even though there aren’t any people on the right side of the painting, I get this sense of “never being alone”–people are always around and listening. You don’t know who is in the next room. And it is accentuated with the stark contrast of color, the symmetry of the space between the two sides of the painting, and the placing of a thick wall right in the middle.



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