The Human Condition
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alampel's picture


Move over, Leo – we’ve got a case of Inception by Magritte.

Remember feeling confused and probably only slightly understanding the movie an hour after you left the theater? Well…that’s kind of how a painting by Magritte works, too. Just without all of the flashy visuals and cool effects.

Just like the movie is about what it would be like if there were dreams inside of dreams, The Human Condition is a painting within a painting, and at first, like poor confused Leo, you almost don’t even notice that there’s another painting there. Magritte loved to wax philosophical, and he wants us to think about the “big picture” when looking at his paintings. But, if it weren’t for the trippiness​ that ensues when you notice the details, this would otherwise be a pretty boring painting.

Magritte’s painstakingly realistic style does a good job at hiding the weirdness at first glance. Like most disturbing things though, once you see it, it can’t be unseen. This painting is thought to be the artist making a statement about the mysterious persona he hid behind his plain exterior. Magritte pretty much looked like everybody else. He liked to wear a bowler hat, a suit, and a tie and was pretty fly for a white, bourgeois guy. If you had met him on the street, you would have had no idea about all of the weird stuff going on in his mind and in his art. Just like in the painting, what you see is what you get...until you look a little bit deeper.

Magritte had a great ability to take things that seem pretty normal and make them strange, and this is why we can’t have nice things. This painting takes that idea to the next level by asking us to think, “What even is art?” Just like that one stupid thing I said to my crush in the sixth grade, this painting is something I lie awake thinking about some nights. Thanks, Magritte.