The museum was making every effort to purchase ‘Le miroir vivant’ of 1928 by René Magritte (1898-1967). The painting would be a splendid addition to the museum’s world-famous collection of Surrealist art. The museum had until the end of the year 2015 to raise the final €120,000 – there was a donation box in the gallery. This early work by Magritte was the key image in an exhibition especially designed around it.
‘Le miroir vivant’ is one of a group of more than forty word and image paintings that Magritte made in the early years of his career. In ‘Le miroir vivant’ four interconnected cloudlike white shapes each feature a short, enigmatic text. The words ‘personnage éclatant de rire’ (person roaring with laughter), ‘armoire’ (closet), ‘horizon’ and ‘cris d’oiseaux’ (birds’ cries) evoke countless associations. Yet the relationship between the words and the meaning of this distinctly non-figurative painting remain difficult to fathom. Rarely does a painting from those early years come on to the market. The work would be a major addition to the later, better-known works by Magritte already in the collection, and it would act as a bridge between Dadaism, Surrealism and Pop Art – artistic trends that are well represented in the museum’s collection.
Unorthodox Collection Presentation
In the vivid green and bright orange exhibition space Magritte’s word and image painting ‘Le miroir vivant’ is pivotal. Curator of contemporary art Francesco Stocchi and American artist Alex da Corte worked in partnership on the exhibition. They saw Magritte’s painting as a starting point from which stories flow. In two room texts they hinted at what the stories can be, but above all they want visitors to make associations and discover their own stories. Fifty paintings, sculptures, photographs and installations by such artists as Jim Shaw, Dan Flavin, Francis Picabia, Barbara Hepworth, Gilbert & George, Duane Hanson and Krijn de Koning established artistic connections between their works as they related to one another and to Magritte’s masterpiece.
The documentary ‘Conducting Boijmans’ by director Sonia Herman Dolz shows how museum head Sjarel Ex tracked down Magritte’s word and image painting. The documentary premiered at IFFR 2015 and was entered in the Nederlands Film Festival’s Golden Calf Competition. On 21 January 2016 it could be seen again on ‘Het Uur van de Wolf’ (NPO 2, 11.00 pm).
The following funds had already promised to contribute towards the purchase of the painting:
De Vereniging Rembrandt, thanks in part to the Dura Kunstfonds, Fonds Willem van Rede, Stichting Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, BankGiro Loterij, Mondriaan Fonds, VSBfonds, and the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds.