Lucy Fischer, Cinemagritte. René Magritte within the Frame of Film History, Theory, and Practice, Wayne State University Press, 2019.
Cinemagritte: René Magritte within the Frame of Film History, Theory, and Practice investigates the dynamic relationship between the Surrealist modernist artist René Magritte (1898–1967) and the cinema—a topic largely ignored in the annals of film and art criticism. Magritte once said that he used cinema as “a trampoline for the imagination,” but here author Lucy Fischer reverses that process by using Magritte’s work as a stimulus for an imaginative examination of film.
While Fischer considers direct influences of film on Magritte and Magritte on film, she concentrates primarily on “resonances” of Magritte’s work in international cinema—both fiction and documentary, mainstream and experimental. These resonances exist for several reasons. First, Magritte was a lover of cinema and created works as homages to the medium, such as Blue Cinema (1925), which immortalized his childhood movie theater. Second, Magritte’s style, though dependent on bizarre juxtapositions, was characterized by surface realism—which ties it to the nature of the photographic and cinematic image. Third, Magritte shares with film a focus on certain significant concepts: the frame, voyeurism, illusionism, the relation between word and image, the face, montage, variable scale, and flexible point of view. Additionally, the volume explores art documentaries concerning Magritte as well as the artist’s whimsical amateur “home movies,” made with his wife, Georgette, friends, and Belgian Surrealist associates. The monograph is richly illustrated with images of Magritte’s oeuvre as well as film stills from such diverse works as The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Eyes Without a Face, American Splendor, The Blood of a Poet, Zorns Lemma, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Draughtsman’s Contract, and many more.
Cinemagritte brings a novel and creative approach to the work of Magritte and both film and art criticism. Students, scholars, and fans of art history and film will enjoy this thoughtful marriage of the two.
Lucy Fischer is Distinguished Professor Emerita of Film and Media Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author/editor of twelve scholarly books and has worked in curatorial positions at The Museum of Modern Art (NYC) and the Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh). She is the former president of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies and is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and for the Humanities.