Magritte at Centre Pompidou until January 23

I’ve long been intrigued by Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte’s work, though until I saw the exhibit “Magritte: The Treachery of Images,” at Centre Pompidou, I didn’t understand it. I assumed his paintings — beautiful, quirky, thought-provoking — were products of random associations, snatches of dreams.

But it turns out Magritte put ordinary objects in unusual contexts consciously. Of his many influences (the show comprises 100 images and traces the influence of André Breton, Plato, Cicero, Heidegger, and others), Hegel figured prominently. Magritte was a student of dialectics.

He selected subjects not for their beauty, but for their opposing, antithetical functions.

In “Hegel’s Holiday” (photo above), an open umbrella, upright and suspended in space, supports a glass. Magritte began by drawing the glass, then explored its properties until he arrived at its functional opposite.

The glass collects water, the umbrella repels it. It took me a while, standing in front of the painting, to see beyond what the subjects had in common — and arrive at what distinguished one from the other.

Paris Art – New shows at Pompidou, Luxembourg, Jacquemart-Andre

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Fall means a fresh line-up of temporary art expos in Paris. Here are 3 shows not to miss.

• Are you a fan of the Beats and the poets and painters who inspired them? Centre Pompidou has a terrific show, through October 3, tracing their travels from 1943-69, culminating in their Paris sojourn.

Musée du Luxembourg, a small museum located in the French Senate building, in the Luxembourg Palace, hosts two shows a year – and these are some of the best expos in Paris. The current temporary show, ” Henri Fantin- Latour. À fleur de peau,” organized by the Réunion des Musées Nationaux in collaboration with the Musée d’Orsay, looks at the French artist’s creative process. Advance purchase tickets recommended. Sept 14 – Feb 12.

• Musée Jacquemart-André, one of Paris’ lesser known museums, has been beautifully restored, from its neoclassical facade to its unusual winter garden, grand staircase, and elegant private apartments. The temporary show, “Rembrandt,” looks at 3 periods in the artist’s life: his early work, his portraits in Amsterdam, and his later life. Sept 16-Jan 23, advance purchase tickets recommended.

Have you seen any of these shows? let us know what you think!