“Son of Man” – the famous canvas of the Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte was painted in 1964. The artist depicted a man in a classic coat with a red tie and a black bowler hat. A man stands near a low brick wall against the background of the sky in grayish clouds and the blue serene sea. The hero’s face is hidden behind a green apple hovering in zero gravity, and his left arm is twisted with the elbow in the opposite direction. The master presented the work as a self-portrait, encrypting the message to the viewer in it.
Author: Rene Magritte (1898-1967).
Year of writing: 1964.
Size: 116 x 89 cm.
Technique: Oil painting.
Location: Private collection.
Rene Magritte is a famous artist who worked in the middle of the 20th century.
He painted surreal canvases with hidden meaning, often depicting the main character of a man in a bowler hat and without a face. The master called his style “magic realism”, in every possible way denying involvement in surrealism.
The Son of Man is written in a vivid and recognizable manner by Rene Magritte – it is a combination of a simple plot (a portrait of a man), a puzzle (an apple and an inverted elbow) and a title with a riddle (a reference to the biblical story). In The Son of Man, the author seems to be asking the viewer a question: “What is hiding behind the man’s face, visible but covered by an apple?”
Description of the painting
In the description of the painting, Magritte clarifies that behind the external and at first glance, quite understandable shell, there is always something that we cannot see. This happens all the time, arousing our genuine interest. Art critics believe that Rene Magritte encrypted several of his favorite themes in the painting: The first is a mystery. The hero looks like a modest and respectable citizen, perhaps even a successful businessman, but who knows what kind of person he really is?
The second is the criminal component. The artist loved adventure and detective stories, and, perhaps, created a plot about a criminal who successfully deceives the police, disguising himself as a simple and honest bourgeois. The third is an allusion to the Fall. Adam was expelled from paradise for eating an apple and not taking responsibility for his wrongdoing.
The green apple symbolizes the temptations that constantly haunt modern man. The fourth is the mother. And, finally, one of the most important themes of the picture is the memories of the painter’s mother who drowned in the river. When the woman’s body was taken out of the water, her head was wrapped in a nightgown, and her face was not visible.
However, whatever meaning Rene Magritte put into the work, he achieved the main thing – “The Son of Man” is called one of the most recognizable paintings in the world. Canvas references and plot references are common in TV shows and films, such as The Simpsons, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Character, and 500 Days of Summer.