Few modern painters are as popular and thoroughly discussed as René Magritte, the major representative of Belgian Surrealism (if not Surrealism tout court). Yet in spite of the general consensus on the historical and cultural value of his work, the properly artistic dimension of Magritte is still open to debate. For many, his subjects and themes are more original and thoughtprovoking than his style, which may seem somewhat academic and shallowly old-fashioned (those who don’t like Magritte even call him a Sunday painter). This judgment is a blatant case of misreading, however, not because it is always possible to reinterpret Magritte’s style as a kind of tongue-in-cheek rebuttal of many pseudo-innovations or revolutions, but because aesthetic is not really—or better: really not—what is at stake in Magritte’s work. Actually, Magritte didn’t like to paint (perhaps a characteristic he shared, yet in a completely different domain, with Hitchcock, who also preferred...

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