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Mark Harden's Artchive: CD-ROM Reviews

Mark Harden's Artchive CD-ROM Reviews: The Mystery of Magritte The Mystery of Magritte

Published by Virtuo of Brussels, Belgium and distributed by Macmillan Interactive Publishing

Available for purchase online

This review was contributed by Basil Lee of London, England.
This is a "must have" CD-ROM for art lovers and for anyone with a curious imagination.

The disk autoruns in Windows 95/98, and starts with a video interview with the artist which piece by piece clears to reveal a typically mysterious self-portrait. From the outset we see Magritte in his daily garb of business suit and tie, a strange contrast with the wildly imaginative paintings and sculpture which are to be seen here.

There is excellent navigation, with animations, photographs and links to his symbols, biography, craft and the works, and to surrealism in his time. The navigation is full of surprises, emphasising the sense of magic present in Magritte's pictures. Throughout we are treated to an exposition of the artist's ideas, as much by graphic examples as by the spoken word and text.

The devices he employed are explained economically yet with a satisfying feeling of completeness, and his use of a very personal set of symbols is illustrated; nowhere is there a concession to merely popular taste. The paintings can be seen in small, enlarged to full screen, and (to a limited extent) in detail, with optional spoken accompaniment often by the artist himself. Clever use is made of windows, each with a handy toolbar permitting expansion of information. The index leads to a huge collection of fine reproductions of the works.

Snatches of atmospheric music heighten the mystery, but the mood is lightened by a game in which we are invited to choose titles for some of the pictures on a multiple choice basis. Correct responses are rewarded with the picture in full screen; get it wrong and Magritte himself appears, his hand across his face.

The magic is in the images, but that has certainly infected the composition of a magnificent CD-ROM.

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