Saturday, January 17, 2009

Analysis of the Rene Magritte’s “The False Mirror”

Analysis of the Rene Magritte’s “The False Mirror”

When it comes to the practice of analyzing images, taking a look at and analyzing images created by surrealist artist Rene Magritte provides opportunity to think about what they mean. In essence, Magritte uses representation in this image to create meaning about the world around us. Not only does looking at an image created by Magritte open a window of opportunity for just thinking about what the picture means, it presents a chance to visualize. One thing that is great about looking at an image like the “False Mirror” is that you can visualize and create the meaning in your mind regarding what you believe the image means. Hence, there is no right and wrong way of looking at an illustration such as this.

When I first saw this image, it really caught my attention. I took a few minutes to look at it and to consider what it really means. When studying this picture, the term that stuck out in my mind was “opportunity”. This is what I saw in this particular work of art:

Somebody is starring into nothing. What I mean by this is that this person may have a chance to do something of great importance in his or her life. However, this person somehow knows in their mind that this road in their life will lead to nothing.

Conversely, on the flip side of things this eye may be the eye of a child who has immense opportunities in his or her future. Ultimately, in this case, “The Sky is the Limit,” which means that this child has endless life opportunities to make a world of difference. Furthermore, this phrase does not strictly have to apply to a child but to anyone. Hence, I believe that this image has the power to instill motivation.

In addition, a saying that I have heard many times before stuck out to me while I was looking at this image. This saying is “the eyes are a door to the mind”. Fundamentally, due to the fact that there is a mainly clear blue sunny sky being portrayed in the eye it represents a clear mind or a clear future. Essentially, when I have a clear mind I am able to think and comprehend better, plus, I tend to not be stressed. Evidently, this could be the case for this particular individual.

Another aspect of this illustration that got my attention is the title “The False Mirror”.
When I first associated the title with the image I thought that this person is starring into a mirror that indicates that there is something false or not true about him. Perhaps this person is a hollow or shallow person that is hard on him or herself and sees that they are of no particular importance, which is false. This person could have a wide and bright imagination and character. However, what they see in the outside world could reflect what they think about themselves.

On the other hand, this person could be a highly respectable and popular human being in the world but actually be a shallow person on the inside. Essentially, there are many ways that this title can be interpreted.

In conclusion, there are many different ways that one can look at this photo and analyze what it actually means. A great thing about illustrations made by Magritte is that one can draw their own conclusions regarding what an image means to them.

Please, let me know what you think about this particular image and what it means to you. I would love to hear what you have to say about this wonderful piece of art.



  1. It’s great to read so many different interpretations you took from one image! I like your reading of the image as ‘The sky is the limit.’ It is interesting how we have such positive emotions attached to a sunny blue sky with puffy white clouds. I know there is scientific, medical evidence which proves how humans react positively to sunshine but how much do you think of our cheerful feelings towards the scenic blue sky as culturally constructed? I was thinking about this as I flipped through a travel magazine, which had advertisements containing beautiful blue skies on practically every second page. What struck me was an advertisement for a beach resort called ‘Sandals,’ located in Jamaica. Last year in a cultural theory class, we watched a documentary of how the tourism industry continues to mask the terrible living conditions of post-colonial Jamaica. It really upset me to see how the West and so-called ‘First World’ countries and their inhabitants continue to utilize and degrade former colonies as vacation spots.

    When I look at this picture, it reminds me of the film, and how often we take advantage of our privileged lifestyles by gazing up at a picturesque blue sky in a lounge chair on a sandy beach in a formerly colonized country. I feel our love of vacationing to foreign islands is causing us to worry more about tan lines rather than the continued effects of colonization.

  2. I enjoyed hearing yur many different analysises of this picture, and can find meaning in all of them. Personally, when i saw this picture, a more metaphysical idea came to mind. I believe that this picture is portraying an eye looking into a nice blue sky and thus, making it real. For as it is argued, we exist to bear withness, and without us, (being mankind), the things to which we bear witness would no longer exist. I believe that the eye is shown as a "false mirror," by reflecting the sky. For, going off of the ideas of Plato and Parmenides, truth exists in not what we can observe through our senses, but through mental contemplation. Thus, the true form of what lies before cannot be observed through it, making it a "false mirror."
    That is just my idea though :D

  3. The eye is considered to be the mirror of the soul.

    Was Magritte influenced by Rev 1 v 7? "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him"

  4. perhaps he meant that an eye turned to heavens is not observing the sky

  5. My interpretation of the image, especially with the help of its title, is that our perspective of things is flawed and is not a true mirror of reality. There may be no specific character in mind (such as the one contemplating opportunities in the original poster's view), and no specific meaning to the fact that the image seen within the eye is a sky. This inward image could be anything, as it is there simply to symbolize the world external to us as a whole.

  6. Fanfiction is an interesting phenomenology.