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The White Race

A work made of oil on canvas.
© 2018 C. Herscovici, London / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.

Date:

1937

Artist:

René Magritte
Belgian, 1898–1967

About this artwork

This painting belongs to a series of four works by René Magritte, all titled The White Race. In each he composed sculpturesque figures from isolated body parts and facial features, disrupting how bodies are usually seen. By deconstructing and reassembling human appendages, the artist defamiliarized something so ubiquitous as to be easily overlooked—the female nude, so often white in Western art—to challenge conventional understandings of bodily forms.

Typically, Magritte’s titles are not descriptive but rather philosophical, raising questions and bringing related ideas to mind poetically. This work’s title suggests a critique of European culture, or what we might now call the social construction of whiteness. In speaking of the painting, however, Magritte focused on the “opportunity… to ask questions of the public; I would ask visitors if they couldn’t tell me why I had given the figure two noses.”

Status

On View, Gallery 396

Department

Modern Art

Artist

René Magritte

Title

The White Race

Place

Belgium (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

1937

Medium

Oil on canvas

Inscriptions

Signed, u.r.; Magritte

Dimensions

81 × 60 cm (31 7/8 × 23 5/8 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of The Leonard and Ruth Horwich Family Foundation

Reference Number

2016.84

Copyright

© 2018 C. Herscovici, London / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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