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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

This Is Not a Magritte Exhibit

For those of us for whom "The Betrayal of Images," Ren? Magritte's 1929 painting of a pipe with the caption "Ceci n'est pas une pipe," is a college dorm-room cliche, it's hard to imagine the Belgian surrealist's works as a novelty.

But that's precisely what the Magritte exhibit at the Museum of Private Collections is. The show, which was first displayed at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and falls in the artist's centennial year, is the first exhibit of Magritte's works in Russia.

Magritte's visual riddles relentlessly tease - and often disturb - the viewer. In works like "The Rape" (shown here), he brings the most forbidden thoughts out of the subconscious and onto the canvas with chilling candidness. Although Magritte has become a classic and the Freudian symbolism he employed has long been a key element of Western thinking, his musings on modern existence have not lost their currency. Only the ubiquitous bowler hat gives away his era.

At the show's opening Wednesday, Paul Winkler, director of the Menil Collection, the Houston museum that organized the exhibit and provided 20 out of the 29 works, called it "a very un-Russian presentation with little didactic material in a very spacious installation." Indeed, the exhibit is a pleasure to stroll through with half a dozen works per room in contrast to Moscow's usually crowded exhibition halls.

The laconic layout was conceived out of respect for Magritte, who wanted his works to be "experienced and not interpreted," Winkler said.

- Sarah Karush

The exhibit runs until Jan. 15 at the Museum of Private Collections, 14 Volkhonka. Tel. 203-1546. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed Monday and Tuesday. Metro: Kropotkinskaya.