Patinated painted bronze sculpture of René Magritte, casted in France after the plaster cast reproduction of the Venus de Milo painted by René Magritte in 1931.
Numbered, inscribed with René Magritte's signature, Magritte Succession's hallmark, stamped by the foundry and with Mr. Charly Herscovici's (President of the Magritte Foundation & representing the Magritte Succession) casted thumbprint under the base.
Les Menottes de Cuivre (1931)
DIMENSIONS: 47,5 cm (18.5' in)
EDITION: 250 + 20AP. Posthumous cast.
MEDIUM: Patinated Bronze
Magritte's magical sculpture "Les Menottes de Cuivre" stands as one of the earliest and most compelling objects of Surrealism. Taking the ubiquitous Venus de Milo as a subject for subversion, Magritte charms and beguiles the viewer into re-evaluating the truth of any given object.
The present sculpture draws from the glamour and monumentality of that classical masterpiece, and yet delights in the frankness of fresh pink flesh, immodest and sensual, whilst the artistry of the original is preserved in the serene white head. Discussing his representation of the Venus Magritte stated that the sudden absence of stone, where stone really exists, and the presence, however, of the form that the stone embodied, must necessarily evoke a sense of mystery. The "nature" of such a statue would not thereby be made arbitrary or subject to a whim: it is necessary that it is flesh.
According to Sylvester, Magritte painted the Venus de Milo four consecutive times (1931, 1934, and 1936) in an attempt to give her a new “unexpected life”.
The sculpture of 1931 was ordered by Louis Scutenaire and Irene Hamoir after having seen a similar one in Magritte’s workshop that was about to be handed to a collector, probably Claude Spaak. That of 1934, slightly bigger, figured in the London Gallery exhibition of 1937 as well as in 1938 (same place) for a personal exhibition. It would have belonged to Magritte himself, Mesens and Roland Penrose. It was still located in London in 1940 when destroyed due to bombings. Finally, that of 1936 was destined to be exhibited at Charles Ratton’s in the same year.
The enigmatic title of this work was bestowed by the surrealist ringmaster André Breton following a request from Magritte to find a title that "for me will be the kind of surprise I like most" (letter from Magritte to Breton, 19 March 1936). Breton obliged and responded "I resign myself to suggesting a purely poetic title: 'The Copper Handcuffs'. The main advantage, I think, is that it gives an additional colour to the object, but not arbitrarily, since copper is the mtal corresponding to Venus. This object is reminiscent of the masks on which I used to paint the sky, or a forest. Here, the head is white, the body is flesh-coloured, the drapery is blue, the base and the arms and feet are black. In my opinion this gives the Venus new and unexpected life." (letter from Breton to Magritte, 8 April 1936). These underlying meanings contributed to an object that already exerts a powerful magnestism…
The proposed title was adopted both for this work and for previous versions." (in D. Sylvester, ed., René Magritte, Catalogue raisonné: Oil Paintings, Objects and Bronzes 1931 -1948, New York, 1993, vol. ii, pp. 423, 426, 427, 447, no. 673, 677, 678).
The exhibition "Le Surréalisme et l'objet" held by the Centre Pompidou, Musée national d'Art Moderne in Paris from October 2013 to March 2014, hosts a 47 cm-high bronze sculpture of this edition, which also illustrates the "Dictionnaire de l'objet surréaliste", published under the direction of Didier Ottinger, curator of the exhibition.
Chatsworth, Beyond Limits: Sotheby’s at Chatsworth, September - October 2011 (monumental 220cm)
Paris, Centre Pompidou, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Le Surréalisme et l'objet, October 2013 - March 2014
St. Petersburg, Dali Museum, Magritte & Dali, December 2018 - May 2019
Paul Nougé, L'avenir des statues, Exposition René Magritte, Brussels, 1933
Patrick Waldberg, René Magritte, Brussels, 1965, p. 9
David Sylvester, Magritte, London, 1992, pp. 211-212, illustration of a plaster cast p. 213
David Sylvester (ed)., Sarah Whitfield & Michael Raeburn, René Magritte,
Catalogue Raisonné, London, 1994, vol. IV, p. 281
Siegfried Gohr, Magritte: Attempting the Impossible, Antwerp, 2009, no. 420, p. 307
Didier Ottinger, Dictionnaire de l’objet surréaliste, Paris, Gallimard/Musée national d'art moderne-Centre Pompidou, 2013, p. 193