Don't Believe the Pipe: The Rise of René Magritte

A new show at the Museum of Modern Art tracks the Belgian surrealist's uneasy reality

Although he trafficked in the uncanny, or maybe because he did, the great Belgian Surrealist René Magritte was, in his personal deportment, as plain and innocuous as an aspirin. He was married all his life to the same woman and dressed most days like a bank clerk. Think of Alfred Hitchcock making Psycho and The Birds while appearing on TV as that droll gent in a suit. Though Magritte spent three crucial years in Paris, the fevered cockpit of Surrealism, he returned permanently to placid Brussels in 1930. To the French, it might as well have been Wichita. Toto, I think...

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