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The therapeutist

Painting, 1937, 47.6×31.3 cm

Description of the artwork «The therapeutist»

In 1927, the first personal exhibition of René Magritte was held in Brussels. The artist presented there a lot of works in the style of Cubism as well as his first surreal experiments. Art critics weren't particularly satisfied with his paintings which made the disappointed artist and his wife go to conquer Paris. In the capital of European art, the artist met André Breton and became a member of his Surrealist group. Despite the long-awaited acknowledgment of Magritte's talent, his relationship with colleagues was far from ideal. Other artists resented his domesticity and lifestyle, which was far from Bohemian, while Magritte, in turn, scolded and ridiculed the Surrealists' passion for psychoanalysis and the works of Freud. One of these ridicules was his painting Therapist, created in 1937.

René Magritte didn't want to put up with the fact that each of his pictures became a subject of discussion among his colleagues not so much because of its' artistic value, but because of the attempts to analyze the artist's personality. He believed that people who needed therapy most of all were the psychotherapists themselves (by the way, in the modern world, supervision is an indispensable requirement of psychotherapeutic practice). The character of his painting is an excellent illustration of this statement.

Magritte depicted his "therapist" as a stranger sitting on the edge of a sea cliff in a broad-brimmed hat, with a stick and a shoulder bag. Like many other Magritte characters, he is faceless, but widely opens his cloak, as if for a moment allowing the viewer to look into his soul, revealing the veil of his own secret. Under the cloak there's hidden a cage with two white pigeons, with one bird being inside, behind the closed door, and the second one – outside the cage. It seems that the free pigeon is trying to communicate with its’ fellow in cage, support it, and help it go free. Just like a therapist helping their clients leave the dark and lonely place that is inside them. Surprisingly, despite his dislike for psychotherapists, Magritte managed to masterfully portray the principle of their work.

Author: Yevheniia Sidelnikova
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About the artwork

This artwork was added since it is referred to in the materials below

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Allegorical scene

Style of art: Surrealism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1937

Size: 47.6×31.3 cm

Artwork in selections: 134 selections