Decoding Michael Cheval’s Tribute to Modern Artists

Lullaby of Uncle Magritte Michael Cheval Park West Gallery

Lullaby of Uncle Magritte” (2016), Michael Cheval

In Michael Cheval’s “Lullaby of Uncle Magritte,” viewers are faced with shape-filled landscapes, odd trinkets and a man who looks to be made out of cheese. It begs the question: “What does it mean?”

According to the Absurdist artist, the painting is his tribute to artists René Magritte, Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso, blending symbols and motifs from some of their most famous works.

“This painting is a dedication to the three artists who, in my opinion, changed the perception of art in the 20th century,” Cheval says. “I wanted to make a dedication and to thank the artists who have defined my taste in art and opened new horizons for me.”

To dive into all of the references packed into this artwork, let’s take a look at each artist and the citations Cheval included.

 

René Magritte

Lullaby of Uncle Magritte Michael Cheval Park West Gallery

Highlighted are details of “Lullaby of Uncle Magritte” inspired by Rene Magritte.

The most prominent figure in the painting is the titular Magritte, a renowned Surrealist from Belgium. Magritte often portrayed ordinary objects in unusual contexts to provide different meaning.

One famous example of Magritte’s work is “The Treachery of Images” that depicts a simple pipe for smoking. However, written under it is “Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” which translates to, “this is not a pipe.” While seemingly contradictory, the statement is in fact true – the work is a painting of a pipe, not an actual pipe. Cheval nods to this painting with a pipe lying near Magritte.

Lullaby of Uncle Magritte Michael Cheval Park West Gallery

Detail from “Lullaby of Uncle Magritte”

Cheval also quotes Magritte’s “Hegel’s Holiday” by having the artist hold an umbrella with a glass of water placed on top of it.

Finally, Magritte’s cloudy appearance is a reference to his “Black Magic” painting, while the cube-filled sky is what Cheval calls “almost an exact quote” from Magritte’s “The Summer Steps.”

 

Salvador Dalí

Lullaby of Uncle Magritte Michael Cheval Park West Gallery

Highlighted are details of “Lullaby of Uncle Magritte” inspired by Salvador Dali.

Dalí was best known for his bizarre and striking Surrealist works. The Spanish artist was just as famous for his eccentric behavior, and left behind a legacy that inspires many modern artists to this day.

Dalí is instantly recognizable thanks to his wide-eyed gaze and upturned mustache, even when he is portrayed as a cheese-like rock in Cheval’s work. This is Cheval’s nod to Dalí’s “Enigma of my Desire or My Mother, My Mother, My Mother.” The painting is Dalí’s exploration of Freudian thought and one of his earliest contributions to Surrealism.

Cheval pays tribute to one of Dalí’s most famous paintings, “The Persistence of Memory,” with a melting clock, while the elephant with spindly legs in the background is adopted from Dalí’s “The Elephants” and “Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening.”

Lullaby of Uncle Magritte Michael Cheval Park West Gallery

A detail from “Lullaby of Uncle Magritte”

In a clever way of paying homage to two artists at once, Cheval depicts Picasso leaning on a drawer from which a spoon emerges, and within the spoon is a tiny lute. This is a quote from Dalí’s painting, “Portrait of Picasso.” Interestingly, Dalí called Picasso a “destroyer” of art.

 

Pablo Picasso

Lullaby of Uncle Magritte Michael Cheval Park West Gallery

Highlighted are details of “Lullaby of Uncle Magritte” inspired by Pablo Picasso.

Picasso is regarded as one of the greatest modern artists, known for co-founding Cubism, collage and creating masterpieces in a multitude of mediums.

Cheval’s tribute to the Spanish artist is a humble one. A young Picasso is shown resting on a drawer with a bottle of wine, which could be a nod to Picasso’s “The Wine Bottle” and to Cubist still life.

Lullaby of Uncle Magritte Michael Cheval Park West Gallery

Detail from “Lullaby of Uncle Magritte.”

Like the other artists in “Lullaby of Uncle Magritte,” Cheval refers to Picasso’s art. The figure seen on the horizon is from “The Old Guitarist,” a painting from Picasso’s Blue Period (1901 to 1904). The monochromatic figure seems out of place in Cheval’s work, but may be an expression of Cheval’s desire to generate a reaction from his viewers, much like Picasso intended with “The Old Guitarist.”

Lullaby of Uncle Magritte Michael Cheval Park West Gallery

Detail from “Lullaby of Uncle Magritte”

There are other symbols and objects in Cheval’s “Lullaby of Uncle Magritte” to uncover. Let us know in the comments what you think they could be.

View the art of Michael Cheval with Park West Gallery to unlock more mysteries by the Absurdist artist. Call (800) 521-9654 ext. 4 or sales@parkwestgallery.com to acquire Cheval art.

4 Responses to Decoding Michael Cheval’s Tribute to Modern Artists

  1. Linda Cowen says:

    What is the cost of “Lullaby of Uncle Magritte”

  2. Conor says:

    The sphere with the line running along the middle of it is a reference to Magritte’s works Memory and The Voice of Space. The horizon is a nod to the works of both Dali and Magritte: the barren desert landscape is to Dali (e.g., The Temptation of St. Anthony, The Elephants, The Persistence of Memory) and the vibrant blue sky with clouds is to Magritte (e.g., The Human Condition, The False Mirror, On The Threshold of Liberty). No idea what the shell is a reference to, though.

Leave a comment

Prove you\'re human. *

Latest News

  • The Top 5 Finalists Have Been Announced For 2017 MI Great Artist Competition

    Five finalists have been chosen for the 2017 MI Great Artist Competition, a contest in support of up-and-coming artists in Southeast Michigan.232 artists from 8 different local counties submitted entries ...
    Read More
  • Behind the Artist: Guy Harvey

    Guy Harvey has spent his life studying and exploring the sea. Through his artistic vision, he shares that passion with the world.Harvey was born in 1955 in Bad Lippspringe, ...
    Read More
  • 5 Practices to Avoid When Hanging Art

    Art is subjective, so what someone hangs in their home or office is a matter of taste, style, and opinion.With that said, there are certain practices to avoid when hanging ...
    Read More
  • Art News: Banderas Plays Picasso, Irma’s Impact on Museums, Monet’s Collection on Display

    The art world is full of fascinating exhibitions, intriguing discoveries, and moments that shape history. Here are some of the latest news items making headlines this week.  Antonio Banderas to Play ...
    Read More
  • Peter Max U.S. Open Art Featured in New York Times

    The New York Times recently chronicled how iconic Pop artist Peter Max not only created art for the 1997 U.S. Open, but also adapted and expanded on his original ...
    Read More
  • 5 Reasons Why Arts Education Is Important For EVERYONE

    “Ya gotta have art!” That was the slogan for the Detroit Institute of Arts back in the 1970s (forever immortalized by this joyfully catchy commercial), but the sentiment has ...
    Read More
  • Anatole Krasnyansky Remembers Tommy Hawkins (1936–2017)

    To many, Tommy Hawkins was an NBA star who set an example for others. For artist Anatole Krasnyansky, he was more than that—he was a dear friend.Hawkins, the first black ...
    Read More
  • Behind the Artist: LeRoy Neiman

    The worlds of fine art and sports don’t commonly collide. To American artist LeRoy Neiman, however, the culture of athleticism was a dynamic masterpiece.Born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1921, ...
    Read More
  • Art News: Dalí Not a Father, Louvre Abu Dhabi Opening, Heist Suspect Being...

    The art world is full of fascinating exhibitions, intriguing discoveries, and moments that shape history. Here are some of the latest news items making art headlines.  DNA Test Proves Dalí’s ‘Daughter’ ...
    Read More
  • Video Premiere: Patrick Guyton Paints Elegance in Gold

    Substrate: a substance or layer that underlies something on which a process occurs. This is where enzymes act, and from which organisms live, grow, or ...
    Read More
  • Semi-Finalists Selected in MI Great Artist

    The votes have been tallied, and 22 Michigan artists will now compete as semi-finalists for the title of 2017 MI Great Artist.More than 34,500 votes were cast during the ...
    Read More
  • Marko Mavrovich Donates Paintings to SEAL Legacy Foundation

    Artist Marko Mavrovich admits the emotions his military-themed paintings evoke makes it difficult to complete the works.“When I paint these paintings of soldiers with dogs I can’t start and ...
    Read More