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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Rene Magritte was a Belgium-based surrealist painter known for his witty and thought-provoking images. He had a way of challenging modern view through his artworks drawing the audience into deep thought and making them reconsider their views on reality.

The created the painting The Rape in 1935, and which many people perceive as highly controversial. It is a simple image of a woman's head whose facial features have been overlaid with the female torso. Breasts have replaced the eyes, navel the nose, and the beginning of the pelvis replaces the mouth.

Lewd imagery

Rene attempts to drive his point home in a strangely overwhelming manner. Anybody will have expected a picture depicting sexual violence if the title is anything to go by. However, that would have been too obvious. Rene uses an astounding overlay of a female torso onto a lady's face to depict how the modern society views women: as a sexual object. The artist seems to suggest that rape does not need to be a physical, sexual violation of the female body, but the noxious thoughts on everybody's mind when they see a woman. When society considers women as objects of pleasure, it is committing rape.

Magritte's depiction of the female body

Rene Magritte has a recreated the image of a woman that exists in a man's mind today. This is the woman whose notable features are the breasts, the navel, and pelvic area. She has no eyes, nose nor a mouth. The implication here is that men don't expect ladies to speak for themselves but to surrender the erotic body parts without a word. It looks like a woman exists only to satisfy a man's most primal desire: sex.

Shock and awe

Rene's depiction of a woman as a sexual object is deliberate. He intended to shock his audience into action against what society considers as normal. Women should mean much more to the society than being objects of pleasure for their male counterparts. It is a simple painting, but its message is awe-inspiring considering that it depicts the raping of a woman in broad daylight. The Rape is one of the shocking works of art by Rene Magritte. Looking at the painting, the image of rape thrusts forcefully onto the fore, forcing the audience to change their mentality towards the female gender.