René Magritte may have been one of the twentieth century’s great Surrealist painters, but for income, he created and trafficked forgeries of famous works by artists such as Picasso, Ernst…and Magritte. Further confusing matters, his forging could in itself be a grand Surrealist statement. The Independent attempts to explain:
One is an original. The other, evidently, a copy. But René Magritte was a Surrealist, and the truth behind The Flavour of Tears suggests he was enjoying a huge – and probably lucrative – joke.
The Flavour of Tears was produced around the time Magritte’s close friend Marcel Mariën claimed Magritte was creating forgeries. In his 1983 autobiography, Le Radeau de la Mémoire, Mariën said Magritte was making money by selling and producing forgeries of works by Picasso, Titian, Max Ernst, Giorgio de Chirico and Meindert Hobbema.
Two collectors saw The Flavour of Tears independently in Magritte’s studio. “We can only assume Magritte painted two identical versions of the same painting. Their similitude is such that even the inscriptions on the back of the canvases are the same. It’s a real mystery as to how this came about.”
Mariën says the replica had been faithfully reproduced, “right down to the holes made by a caterpillar”.