top of page

René Magritte

the Empire of Lights


Think “and” rather than “or”

René Magritte, in the 1950s, is an artist with growing notoriety. Since his participation in the surrealist movement thirty years earlier, he has produced works that are sometimes funny, often mysterious, accomplishing the feat of marrying humor and philosophy, poetic inspiration and intellectual rigor, academic technique and avant-garde ideas.


The series of paintings entitled the Empire of Lights , which takes up a similar composition on several canvases, illustrates the talent of this man of paradoxes. Facades and trees, immersed in a thick

half-light pierced only by the light of a streetlamp, stand out against a sunny sky dotted with white clouds. Is it daylight? Is it night? Both, actually. The scene is impossible and yet the illusion is perfect: our reason is defeated. The secret to this magic trick is time. Magritte plays with our perception by superimposing two different temporalities in the same scene, associating propositions – day and night – which, in principle, should be mutually exclusive. He thus suggests that it is sometimes possible to reconcile apparently contradictory concepts.

What we can take away:

As our understanding of the world goes through a process of categorizing ideas, we often tend to think in terms of opposition. Replacing this logic of alternatives (this or that) with a search for reconciliation (this and that) makes it possible to imagine original solutions.

Related theme: Creativity
Related topic: Method
Search by artist
bottom of page