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Inside Magritte: Immersive multimedia art experience at La Boverie, Liège

Inside Magritte immersive digital experience
17:23 07/11/2021

Some 160 works by Belgian surrealist René Magritte feature in the virtual ‘emotion exhibition’ Inside Magritte, showing at Liège’s fine arts museum La Boverie until 6 March.

Inside Magritte immersive digital exhibition (c) Sarah Crew

The dive into the artist’s unique universe sees some of his most iconic images projected onto every surface of the exhibition space, creating an immersive and playful experience. Scudding clouds, floating pipes and raining apples are among the familiar objects and paintings to fill the experience room, enhanced by an atmospheric sound track.

Inside Magritte digital exhibition Hall of Mirrors

A hall of mirrors creates a vertiginous and photo-friendly space, further enveloping the visitor with 360° screened images. It’s multi-sensory escapism, designed to be accessible for all ages. The kaleidoscope of colourful scenes serves as a visual induction, aimed at inciting interest to delve further into Magritte’s prolific repertoire.

L'univers interdit © Musée des Beaux-Arts, Ville de Liège © Succession René Magritte– SABAM, Belgium, 2021 © Tempora

Four original Magritte paintings belonging to the city of Liège are on display at the entrance to the exhibition. Rarely seen, and dating from 1927 to 1943, they offer a glimpse of the artist’s varying styles (L'univers interdit, 1943 pictured). A timeline presents the chronology of his life, from his birth in Lessines in 1898 to his death in Brussels in 1967. For more detailed information about the artist, visitors are invited to scan a QR code.

The selected works are organised around eight themes, selected to show Magritte’s evolution during his long career. In his early post-WWI period, he explored modernist abstract art before dedicating himself to surrealism in the mid-1920s, becoming one of the movement’s major figures. During an ensuing prodigious ‘dark period’, his muted palette produced oil paintings resembling theatre sets. This developed into a preoccupation with placing every-day objects in unfamiliar and ambiguous scenes, resulting in some of his most recognisable images.

Inside Magritte Firenze (c) Crossmedia

In one of Magritte’s famous works, The Treachery of Images (1929), he integrated the iconic line ‘This is not a pipe’ to highlight the difference between an object and an image. Ongoing studies into the representation of objects led to works such as The Elective Affinities and The Unexpected Answer during the 1930s.

Inside Magritte digital exhibition (c) Sarah Crew

As with many artists, the horrors of the second world war provoked a stylistic change. Magritte adopted Impressionist colours and a joie de vivre, but this ‘Renoir period’ was commercially and critically unpopular. During a couple of months in 1948, he produced 30 works for a Paris exhibition in a more comic and vulgar vein, known as the ‘Cow period’. Reception was similarly cold, but in the final two decades of his life, with successful sales in the US, he returned to a more classic style. Objects were again the focus of his attention in both interior and exterior paintings that transport the viewer into a poetic and enigmatic world.

Inside Magritte (c) Tempora

The exhibition itinerary concludes with a documentary video about Magritte and the film world, along with a room equipped with chairs and VR headsets, which enable visitors to view his artworks in 3D format.

While Inside Magritte was inaugurated in Florence, La Boverie is the first museum in Belgium to stage such a show, the result of a collaboration with Tempora and Crossmedia. Léa Rangé, project manager at Tempora reiterates the point that visitor’s don’t need to be familiar with the artist’s work. “They can come and discover the universe of Magritte. It works perfectly well for an immersive show because there’s a lot of mystery and there are elements that are very intriguing. With the animation, you can really feel being in his mind.”

For the Magritte Foundation’s Charly Herscovici, it offers a modern interpretation of the artist’s images. “There’s a magical side with the techniques of today… This way of discovering his works in a playful manner widens the interest in him.”

Inside Magritte
Until 6 March
La Boverie, Liège
Entrance: €15 (6-25 years €8)


Written by Sarah Crew