As viewers gaze into the eye - an abstract window to the sky - the eye simultaneously looks back at them, both seeing and being seen. Rene Magritte even titled the work - with help from his friend Paul Nouge, a Belgian Surrealist writer - to juxtapose the mechanical reflection of the mirror with the selective and subjective reflection of the human eye.
Clearly, Magritte intended this piece to disturb the viewer by blurring the lines between the viewer and the viewed. By using the eye as art object and subject, Magritte undermines the basic assumptions of seeing. Even the artistic construction of the eye assaults the viewer’s anatomical understanding. The lively, nearly luminescent iris is starkly juxtaposed with the black, vacant pupil. The eyelids seem stretched in a mix of wonder and fear, an emotion that is mimicked by the audience. The harsh lines around the lashless lids create a vivid visual distinction...