Iconic Dadaist, surrealist, and conceptual artist René Magritte died 50 years ago this August, but his work is reborn in a new immersive experience called Magritte VR. As part of festivities commemorating the Belgian artist’s life and work, the Magritte Estate commissioned an immersive world to be constructed from high resolution scans of his most famous paintings, such as The Son of Man, Golconda, and The False Mirror. A sculpture imitating the “pipe” in The Treachery of Images stands nearby. Ever the prankster, Magritte would likely appreciate that visitors must literally enter a giant bowler hat in the seaside Belgian town of Knokke to view the immersive experience.
Bristol-based studio BDH Immersive created the virtual reality experience, which can be viewed by 50 people at a time inside the massive headpiece. “Magritte is one of the most celebrated artists that’s ever lived, and rightly so,” says director John Durrant. “In our Magritte Virtual Reality experience, we have built a journey through his wonderful landscapes and have captured their particular and peculiar atmospheres.” Their work furthers efforts like Ali Eslami’s DIY recreation of paintings like The Listening Room, mirroring the likes of The Dalí Museum’s Dreams of Dalí VR experience.
Magritte VR is just one of several Magritte-based activities in Knokke this summer. His largest painting, The Enchanted Realm, will be on display at the nearby Knokke Casino, accompanied by a 15-minute sound and light show. Furthermore, an app is available that will guide visitors through the city “with the help of René Magritte,” though it’s unclear exactly to what extent the deceased icon will assist.
“I hope [Magritte] would have enjoyed the Magritte Virtual Reality Experience,” Durrant continues. “As an artist, he too would have been inspired by the emerging technologies. We can only dream what amazing virtual realities he would have created.”
Check out Magritte VR in the images and video below.