Spring 2022 exhibition takes an unparalleled look at a Magritte masterpiece from The Israel Museum collection

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Spring 2022 exhibition takes an unparalleled look at a Magritte masterpiece from The Israel Museum collection
René Magritte, The Castle of the Pyrenees, 1959 © ADAGP, Paris, 2022. Photo ©The Israel Museum, Jerusalem by Avshalom Avital.

JERUSALEM.- René Magritte’s modern masterpiece The Castle of the Pyrenees (1959) has been an icon of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem’s Dada and Surrealist collection since it was gifted to the Museum for its 20th anniversary in 1985. This spring, a new special exhibition will bring the monumental painting together for the first time with letters between Magritte and his friend and patron Harry Torczyner to tell the story behind its creation. Drifting with Magritte: Castles in the Sky will also contextualize this major work both among its contemporaries and with contemporary art today through additional paintings and sketches from IMJ’s collection, significant loans, and related archival materials and ephemera. Delving into the artistic and literary influences that inspired The Castle of the Pyrenees, the exhibition will be on view March 17 – October 18, 2022.

A commission from Torczyner, who was the largest private collector of Magritte’s work, the central painting evolved through a little-known dialogue. Letters between Torczyner and Magritte reveal the symbiotic nature of their artist-patron relationship: a balance between Magritte’s complete artistic freedom and Torczyner’s welcome commentary.

"This intimate exhibition explores how one of Magritte’s most iconic images developed from this written exchange between two good friends," said Efrat Klein-Aharon, Associate Curator in the Stella Fischbach Department of Modern Art, who curated the exhibition. "In our research, we discovered a range of influences that inspired Magritte, from a vintage copy of Gulliver’s Travels to a postcard of the ocean in the artist’s possession, which provided new insights into his artistic process and the origin of The Castle of the Pyrenees."

To examine the genesis and legacy of the painting within the context of the artist’s oeuvre, the exhibition will also feature additional oil paintings by Magritte, including a portrait of Torczyner from 1958; rarely seen preliminary sketches for the commission; and vintage media that inspired the artist. Additionally, a selection of items referencing The Castle of the Pyrenees, from a Japanese comic book and Saul Bass’ iconic Hollywood film The Quest to contemporary works by Katinka Bock, Attai Chen, Latifa Echakhch, Philippe Ramette, Jerry Uelsmann, and Studio Drift will demonstrate the ways this painting has inspired numerous artists across time.

Drifting with Magritte is organized by the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and is accompanied by a catalogue in English and Hebrew which will include the complete published correspondence between Torczyner and Magritte as well as enlightening essays by exhibition curator Efrat Klein-Aharon and Michel Draguet, Director and CEO of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium.

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