Attending the René Magritte exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art last month, several pieces struck me as strong illustrations of principles that became widely recognized long after he produced his works.
Trait Theory vs. Social Psychology
When Magritte painted Paul Nougé, he doubled the image, reproducing his own image of his friend while subtly changing it. In doing so, he broke from the tradition that portraiture should “represent a singular self.” Rather, Magritte is saying, all representations are just that, a record of one view of a person, one facet of their personality.
“But the King said…’The fact is that [writing] will produce forgetfulness in the souls of those who have learned it. They will not need to exercise their memories, being able to rely on what is written, calling things to mind no longer from within themselves by their own unaided powers, but under the stimulus of external marks that are alien to themselves. So it’s not a recipe for memory, but for reminding.'”
I’ve been going to art museums more lately, attending the Hopper retrospective at the Whitney, and more recently, the Magritte retrospective at MoMA. Not having been to many art museums in the last decade, I was surprised to see a behavior familiar from concerts: a seeming greater focus on capturing just the right picture or video than on experiencing the thing being recorded.