Rene Magritte

Le Drapeau noir [The Black Flag] (1937)

About this artwork

'The Black Flag' may refer to the German bombing of the small Spanish town of Guernica in April 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. Magritte later wrote that the picture 'gave a foretaste of the terror which would come from flying machines, and I am not proud of it.' In contrast to artists who praised technology, Magritte was showing that machines have their darker side. Looking closely at the planes, one can see that they are made of a variety of strange shapes. The plane on the bottom right has a long, curtained window where its wings should be.

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Rene Magritte

Rene Magritte

Magritte was born in Belgium and, apart from a few years spent in Paris in the late 1920s, lived there all his life. Unlike many Surrealists, Magritte did not subscribe to the view that the unconscious could be expressed through chance or 'automatic' techniques. Instead, he planned and executed his paintings with all the deliberation and skill of an academic painter. The results are surprisingly credible images of seemingly illogical scenes. Magritte would undermine logic by tampering with scale and by placing unrelated objects in unexpected settings. A constant theme running through his art is the relationship that exists between the painted image and the visible world, between fiction and reality. Magritte's art blurs the boundaries between the two.