Art: Bored Funnyman

The red corduroy walls of Rome's smart Obelisco Gallery have seen some unusual exhibits lately—churches in flames, frolicking priests, transparent cats gorged on mice and flowers. But last week's show topped them all. Gallery Owner Gaspero del Corso had reached out to Belgium and brought back 28 paintings by an old surrealist funnyman, Brussels' dour little René Magritte (TIME. June 21, 1948). For Romans, it was a first good look at Magritte's sleepy fantasies. Del Corso's enthusiastic verdict: "They are scandalized."

Surrealist Magritte is still up to his old tricks. "I'm always looking for a feeling of luxury, of uselessness," he says,...

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