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Currently held in the US as part of the Guggenheim Collection, The Voice of Space is an oil painting by the Belgian Surrealist artist Rene Magritte.
Oil on canvas was Magritte's favoured medium, and though he used other media at times (such as lithograph), it is safe to say that oils are his hallmark. Magritte painted The Voice of Space in 1931 at the mid point of his career. Like most of his works, The Voice of Space depicts a realistic looking landscape with a Surreal element.
And, like all of his works, this painting uses a detailed and realistic painting style to make everyday objects and scenes look incredibly change.
Just a single glance at The Voice of Space will show that this could be described as a science fiction painting. After all, Magritte was painting around the same time as numerous key science fiction authors were publishing speculative works of fiction about space - Wyndham Lewis (author of The Day of the Triffids) is a good example.
The Voice of Space depicts a recognisable country landscape, showing clear features of human occupation. Dwarfing this landscape, however, are three orbs hovering in the sky. The precise nature of the orbs is somewhat unclear. Are they alien life forms in a space ship? Or are they the artist's visualisations of what the sound of a voice from outer space might be? Whatever they are, there is no denying that this is a very intriguing and thought provoking painting.
Over three decades before the first human being walked on the moon, artists were envisioning what it might be like to have contact with life from space. Science fiction is in many ways the ideal complement to Surrealism, because both genres rely on the detailed and 'realistic' depiction of extraordinary, imagined and hyper-real events. We see this phenomenon very clearly in Rene Magritte's acclaimed interwar painting, entitled The Voice of Space.