Le Blanc-Seing

Le Blanc-Seing
Le Blanc-Seing
Rene Magritte
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The French title of Rene Magritt'e famous painting Le Blanc-Seing (literal translation: "The Blank Signature") roughly translates as "free hand" or "free rein".

At first glance, the painting appears to be an ordinary painting of a woman on horse back riding through a forest. Yet as you look closer at the painting you realize that something is not right. The woman and horse are impossibly interlaced with the forest.

The painting violates the law of occlusion: closer objects should visually cover up objects positioned behind them. In the painting, the woman on the horse should be occluded by the tree in front of her. Yet we see her image in front of the tree.

Notice the tree covering the woman's right arm. It appears to be in front of her yet if you look at the base of the tree, you see that it is in the distance relative to the other trees. Is the tree in the distance or is it in the foreground? Also notice the gap in the trees at the horse's right shoulder. That is a gap yet Magritte treats it -- empty space -- like an object and moves it to the foreground. At first we could say that Magritte is just interlacing the woman/horse and the trees, but the "foreground gap" puts an even greater surreal spin on the painting -- what does it mean when empty space can be treated like an object?! Is "nothing" something? It all comes down to perception.

Le Blanc-Seing 1965 demonstrates an occlusion illusion. The painting was one of Magritte's last works before he died in 1967.

The "Waterfall" by M.C. Escher contains similar violations of global depth relations.

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