Rene Magritte painted over Napoleon’s death mask to create an unconventional artwork. He wanted to challenge the audience’s conventional perception of reality by experimenting with words and images. The resulting piece, called “The Empty Mask,” portrays a blue sky with white clouds in place of the plaster bust, entwining an eerily living quality with it that adds to its strangeness.
Magritte is known for his surrealist art that sought to provoke thought and eliminate traditional artistic norms. His paintings often explored the concept of reality and perception and were classified under the surreal space art genre. Magritte’s most well-known piece was “The Son of Man,” which was commissioned by his friend based in New York, Harry Torczyner.
Magritte’s paintings depict minutely detailed elements but their composite portrayal always leaves an impression ironical and mysterious, such as “The Portrait.” In this painting, he presents an almost photo-realistic table setting featuring a slice of ham in the center upon which there is an eye staring back at the viewer adding another layer of depth to his creation.