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Given the rarity of the oeuvre’s availability at auction as well its renewed currency — notably in a 100-example strong exhibition, Magritte, the Treason of Images, running at the Centre Pompidou in Paris through January 23 before moving in a more limited form to the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt February 10 — one of the best bets in Artcurial’s Paris Impressionism and Modern Art sale today is, above, René Magritte, “Cheval” (Horse), 1947, a 34 x 42.7 cm ink on paper drawing. (Signed lower right by the artist with, on the reverse, the attestation — in French in the original — “This drawing is by my husband René Magritte. / Georgette Magritte.”) Estimated by Artcurial at 12,000 – 15,000 Euros, the work falls during a period, 1946 – 1948, when Magritte was bent on confounding public expectation — as if even his own by then established contrarian image as an artist was not sacred. (Or maybe, after a world war which left 50 million dead and, between the death camps and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the very notion of civilization in chaos, he felt the need for a return to beauty; witness the seductive 1948 nude “The Pebble.”) In 1946, police seized two pamphlets on which he’d collaborated, “L’Emmerdeur” and “L’Enculeur.” In October of that year, he joined other Belgian surrealists in signing “Le Surréalism in plein soleil, Manifest No. 1,” which opposed the darker Parisian school with a Surréalism inspired by the Provençal light and voluptuous female forms of Renoir and the dazzling primary colors of the Fauves. And it was canvasses guided by these values that he shipped to the Galerie du Faubourg in Paris in 1948, pissing off a public expecting his more typical games of perspective and words to such a degree that nothing sold. Image copyright and courtesy Artcurial. — Paul Ben-Itzak

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