Feb. 2, 2006 • Volume 14 Number 10

Book Cover Exhibition a Tribute to Magritte

Later this month, Bapst Art Library will host an exhibition that features a selection of book covers inspired by the celebrated Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte.

"La Culture des Idees: Book Cover Design and the Spirit of Magritte," which will be on display from Feb. 13-March 19, consists of a selection of some 60 books compiled by photographer Karl Baden, a member of the Fine Arts Department faculty.

In an introductory text to the exhibition, Magritte expert Prof. Jeffery Howe (Fine Arts) explains the show's premise: "These are not Magrittes; the book covers in this exhibition are inspired by him and appropriate his imagery. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Magritte might be said to be one of the most flattered of artists."

Magritte's work struck a resonant chord - not only with his contemporaries, but with subsequent generations as well, according to Baden.

He notes that Magritte's bowler-hatted, identical bourgeoisie, perceptual enigmas and portals into other worlds were embraced and, to some degree, revitalized by the youth culture of the 1960s: a generation obsessed with the self, disdainful of middle class values and eager to explore alternative states of consciousness and what they perceived to be the inner realms of the psyche.

"The spirit of revolution manifests itself in Magritte's refusal to accept convention; his images embody contradiction and the questioning of authority," Howe notes. "Even his most subtle images are like depth charges, detonating in one's consciousness long after the first encounter, shaking the foundations of conventional reality."

For more information, call Bapst Library at ext.2-3200 or see the library Web site at

-Rosanne Pellegrini

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