Saturday, October 13, 2018
Empire of Light, Part 2
Here's another early-morning shot from my neighborhood, taken when the streets are quiet and the day is balanced on the cusp of dawn. This photo and the one I posted two days ago both remind me of Rene Magritte's "Empire of Light" paintings:
I remember seeing this painting at MoMA, I believe, many years ago and loving it. Something about that magical time of early morning or late evening, and the perfect glow of that lonely streetlight, is really captivating. It's one of a few Magritte paintings depicting this theme.
I've read that the paintings supposedly create an unsettled feeling in the viewer by showing a nighttime street against a daytime sky. The scholarly conclusion seems to be that these two phenomena can't coexist in real life, creating conflict and possibly representing some sort of moral or philosophical conundrum. I'm not so sure, though. I've always found "The Empire of Light" peaceful and soothing, and as my photo shows, day and night can in fact coexist, briefly.
The only element that seems menacing to me is the tall building (or water tower or something) at left, an architecturally Brutalist disruption of the otherwise natural border between treeline and clouds.
(I compared one of my photos to this painting once before, way back in 2010. But that photo was taken at night, which, in retrospect, misses the point of the painting.)
Here's the Waterlogue version of my shot. Not terrible, but hardly Magritte. Which once again proves that even the most remarkable phone app can't replace the genius of human intention in art!