Not to be Reproduced (La reproduction interdite, 1937) René Magritte
Media Aesthetics (Huma 1600)
October 22, 2012
Often in art galleries one can find masses of people carefully inspecting precious paintings and other works. Currently, the common practice for both novices and experts alike is to closely examine each piece of work for a deeper, disguised meaning that every artist has somehow instilled in his or her creations. Despite the popularity of this custom, a number of artists continue to convey opposition to it. Such sentiment is especially evident in René Magritte’s famed painting, Not to be Reproduced. I contend that Magritte’s Not to be Reproduced divulges the futility of the excessive scrutiny of images and simultaneously contrasts traditional and modern forms of mediation.
One of the foremost elements of this painting is the seemingly improper reflection of the man. Because the man is standing facing the mirror, the viewer would expect to see the man’s face reflected, yet only the backside of the man is shown. This portion of the work confronts the common obsession with discovering the concealed, deeper meaning that is assumed to be behind every image by conveying that sometimes there are no alternate implications besides the ones immediately displayed. Naturally, the viewer would inquire about the face of the man—perhaps how it looks, or the message that it’s masking, however, if we take a step back from simply glancing at Magritte’s work, one must acknowledge that the man’s face does not exist simply because the artist did not create one. Since the man’s face does not exist and never will, it would be useless to dissect the potential connotations that the face could offer because there are none. Likewise, the reproduction of the man’s back in the mirror instead of an alternate perspective implies that many times, deeply sought after message that we assume lies behind the image is merely the image...
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