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'The Meaning of Night' (oil on canvas, 1927) seems to represent the deep fear of darkness in human nature and of what is unseeable and unknowable in the external landscape, and inner world of the human psyche and soul. Rene Magritte (1898-1967) was a Surrealistic, Belgian artist who spent most of his years as a painter doing commissions for wallpaper, before gaining fame at the end of his career, and life.

'The Meaning of Night' poetically reveals the struggle the individual has with its own shadow complex, and the fear of the unknown night and darkness that also lingers in the souls of others. The painting forms in intense, heavy colors of graduating grey layering over a sandy beach of fallen clouds. This non sensical content,  that intermingles with touches of the sane in recognizable forms such as man, hands, sea, and feathers, stretches the boundaries of the mind with illusions. The more one studies the art, the more one is caught by images that have little rationality, yet have powerful imagery that reaches far within to provoke a psychological reaction to the piece. Through the strange and convoluted stories told on his canvases, Magritte believed his work to be an open invitation to welcome that which we cannot know: 

"My painting is visible images which conceal nothing; they evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question, 'What does that mean?' It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing, it is unknowable.”

Since his death, many of the painter’s works have been appropriated by popular culture and used in media and various advertising campaigns. Given his viewpoints while he was alive, one might speculate that Magritte would have been unhappy by this exploitation of his artwork and original message. Influenced by the ideology of Sigmund Freud, Magritte was a part of the 1920’s Surrealism movement that revolted against mainstream constructs, believing society was an oppressive machine that needed to be deconstructed through new avenues of thought and perception. 


The Meaning of Night

'The Meaning of Night'
'The Meaning of Night'

1927, Oil on canvas,by Rene Magritte

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