Golconde By Rene Magritte
Golconde is a name that Belgian painter Rene Magritte annexed from an Indian medieval city and gave it to his1953 work. It is essentially on oil painting on canvas that depicts several men dressed in black overcoats and bowler hats against the backdrop of blue skies and brick-roofed urban residential quarters. The men vary greatly in terms of size with some as tiny as fleas and some cutting the conventional image of a human being. At first instance, the painting gives the impression of colored rain drops of varied sizes.
On top of suggesting the name, Rene’s poet friend Louis Scutenaire had the honor of having his likeness included in the painting. The man by the chimney of the house on the right of the picture is none other but him.
Rene was part of an artist movement obsessed with surrealism that made its mark after the First World War. This movement poured its focus into psychological states which resemble dreams and fantasy. Although this artistic gang was greatly inspired by Freudian ideas, its concern was mainly in the expressive capacity of dreams. Thus, the surrealists admired artwork created by complete lunatics for the attendant freedom of expression not to mention kids’ doodling. This technique was also influenced by works by previous professionals but the element of fantasy was always the surest way of grabbing their attention.
In Golconde, Magritte proved his mastery of surrealism by altering the scales of the objects in the painting. The absurdity that accompanies depicting a man in the body of a flea, coupled with the phenomenon of mid-air floating, instantly gives the picture magical value. In Golconde, Rene’s famous dictum that an object “never fulfills the same function as its name or its image” came to life with unrivalled assertiveness.
It’s on record that apart from like-minded surrealists; the genius in Rene’s work remained unacknowledged up until the second half of the 20th century. Critics attribute this to the fact that he is a difficult artist who doesn’t paint with the audiences’ tastes in mind. Rather, he goes against the grain and in so doing delivers intellectually and philosophically cogent work.
In Golconde, he paints the trench-coat bowler-cap man in endless repetition. Underlying this seemingly monotonous cue is a loud and glib description of the anonymity of city life. Put differently, it’s a geographically unlimited portrayal of a mind-your-own-business modern world.
Notable Auction Sales
Appearance in Exhibition
In New York, Great Modern Pictures offers the Golconde in two versions. An unframed piece on exhibition quality print on heavy coated stock is on offer as well as its unframed counterpart. An even that closed on July 11 2010 in Mexico City showcased 152 paintings, drawings and objects by Rene. Golconde was among those pieces of artwork borrowed from 34 museums and private collections spreading over nine countries.
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