René Magritte (1898 - 1967): Souvenir de Voyage, 1958, oil11/15/2021, 5:08:24 PM
René Magritte (1898 - 1967): Souvenir de Voyage, 1958, oil on canvas, 40 x 30 cm, Private Collection . . Depicting the leaning tower of Pisa 'supported' by a feather, Souvenir de Voyage is a remarkable example of the way in which Magritte's art appropriates images from popular culture, and turns them into fantastic compositions. Reproductions of famous paintings, travel brochures, postcards and other souvenirs were often seized upon as sources for his paintings and gouaches, as is the case in the present work. Since the leaning tower of Pisa holds the same mystifying appeal within architecture as Mona Lisa does in painting, Magritte would have certainly relished its status as a popular icon. By adding the feather as a support for the famously unstable building, the artist seeks to subvert the laws of physics, as well as to question the viewer's perception of an image so deeply rooted in common culture. The image of the tower 'supported' by a feather first appeared in an oil of 1953, with a more literal title La Nuit de Pise. The title Magritte chose for the present work, that first appeared in a 1926 oil, was conceivably inspired by J.A. Gobineau's book Souvenirs de voyage, which Magritte had in his library. Its more poetic resonance certainly struck a chord with the artist and his inclination for unusual titles, and emphasises the ubiquitous appeal of the image.