As a school, surrealism has all but died of its own painted agonies. Its liveliest remaining master is one of the few with a blithely bubbling sense of humor. In an exhibit opening at a Manhattan gallery next week, Rene Magritte proves once again that he has all the technical facility of the best surrealists and almost none of their nightmare overtones. "It is much easier," he says, "to terrorize than to charm." Magritte charms with jokes-in-oils like this properly bowlered, quietly defiant self-portrait (upper right), a wine bottle turning into a carrot (above), and a sunlit sky that casts no...

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