La Chateau des Pyrenees, 1959

La Chateau des Pyrenees
La Chateau des Pyrenees Art Print
Magritte, Rene
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La Chateau des Pyrenees (translation: "The Castle of the Pyrenees") is truly a surreal painting. The Chateau (castle) sits perched on top of a large mountain floating above a large body of water. More than half of the painting is taken up the floating mountain; it is the main focus of the painting. Notice the position of the mountain in the painting; it takes up the upper portion, it is not in the vertical center of the painting and is nearly at the top of the painting. This location emphasis the levitation of the mountain. The sky is a clear blue sky with many white clouds. The lower 1/8 of the painting shows the water and rough waves. Notice that we do not see the land that the waves are crashing upon. The only land visible in the entire painting is the floating mountain.

What is Maritte saying in this painting? The levitation of such a large rock literally defies gravity. There are some points to consider here. By the fact that the mountain is in the air, it has no foundation. It was once part of the Earth yet it is now separate. How does one enter such a castle? There is no path up the mountain. It is unreachable by land and by sea. It can only be reached by air and by the imagination.

It is always important to consider the title of any painting, in this case, La Chateau des Pyrenees. Something can always be learned from a painting's title. The Pyrenees are a range of mountains in southwest Europe that form a natural border between France and Spain. Etymology: According to Greek mythology the Pyrenees are named after Pyrene (fire in Greek) the daughter of Bebryx, who was raped by Hercules. She got pregnant and, the next morning, Hercules was drunk in a slumber. She then stabbed him, and went into hiding. Bebryx, thinking her dead and not knowing exactly where she was, built a great tomb for her; the Pyrenees. (source: wikipedia.org). Know that we know this information, we can consider whether Magritte is saying that this castle in the sky is Pyrene's tomb or perhaps where she went into hiding.

The concept of a floating city appears repeatedly in science fiction literature and drama. In the Star Trek episode, "The Cloud Minders (1969)," Stratos is a fictional floating city on the planet Ardana and ruled by High Advisor Plasus. And the Cloud City is a floating city on Bespin, a fictional planet in the Star Wars universe managed by Lando Calrissian (Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back; 1980).

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