CW at the Magritte by Hannah Duane

On the last Monday of September, Creative Writing made its way to SFMOMA to see the exhibit of Magritte’s late work. We met, excited in the lobby. Many students among us had already seen the show, were quick to tell us it was fantastic.

In the first two weeks of school, Creative Writing builds community by going on many field trips. Some of these excursions are purely enjoyment, such as our ritual swim in aquatic park, however many connect CW with the culture and art happening in our city. This year, we went to SFMOMA to see Selves and Others, a collection focusing on modern self portraits, as well as the De Young to see a Judy Dater photography show, and attended a reading at Booksmith to hear Thomas McBee, and finally, back to SFMOMA for the Magritte. After two weeks of talking about art and learning to further develop our vocabulary, this final show was our chance to take the art in on our own. Most of the Creative Writers went through slowly, and by themselves or with a few friends, talking about their opinions with each other, and occasionally stopping to write.

The show was set up across many rooms, each focusing on a different period in Magritte’s life. I very much enjoyed seeing his progression, and beginning to understand the themes and motifs Magritte found most interesting. As a writer, it was intriguing to see how these same techniques are applicable across art forms.

Magritte’s exploration scale, light, and weight most affected me. In the final room displayed a painting of a rock suspended over the sea. In this image, entitled “Clear Ideas,” the rock is the same size and shape a cloud above it, asking the eye to equate the images. However, while a cloud is light, and in its whiteness does not connote danger, the rock is menacing. It nearly represents rain, and yet the light coming from the position of the viewer illuminates the rock as quite solid.

I also enjoyed the way he captured light in the painting “Evening Falls.” This piece features a sunset behind a window frame with the fractured glass strewn around the floor. Though the glass, in reality, would show what is newly behind it, the shards depict the sunset as well. This surrealistic image invites the reader to question representation, and merge past and present visions.

I left the exhibit inspired to write surrealism and explore what themes I am drawn to in my own writing. It is easy, at a school full of artist to attempt to find clear lines between the different disciplines, however in reality, art is far more fluid than that, with a variety of forms in conversation.

Hannah Duane
Class of 2021

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