May 9, 2012


Artist, Rene Magritte, might be best remembered for his surreal portrait of the bowler hat and apple, but he was also a terrific Fantomas fan. He was so enthralled by the character and Feuillade's films, in fact, that he even wrote some fiction about the arch-criminial! This text was published in March, 1928: "A THEATRICAL EVENT. Juve has been on the trail of Fantomas for quite some time. He crawls along the broken cobblestones of a mysterious passage. To guide himself he gropes along the walls with his fingers. Suddenly, a whiff of hot air hits him in the face. He comes nearer...His eyes adjust to the darkness. Juve distinguishes a door with loose boards a few feet in front of him. He undoes his overcoat in order to wrap it around his left arm, and gets his revolver ready. As soon as he has cleared the door, Juve realizes that his precautions were unnecessary: Fantômas is close by, sleeping deeply. In a matter of seconds Juve has tied up the sleeper. Fantômas continues to dream — of his disguises, perhaps, as usual. Juve, in the highest of spirits, pronounces some regrettable words. They cause the prisoner to start. He wakes up, and once awake, Fantômas is no longer Juve's captive. Juve has failed again this time. One means remains for him to achieve his end: Juve will have to get into one of Fantômas's dreams — he will try to take part as one of its characters. (Translation by Suzi Gablik, from Magritte. Boston: New York Graphic Society 1976)." 

Magritte devoted a number of paintings to Fantomas, the most famous being The Backfire (1943), a recreation of the Fantomas book jacket and movie poster art (see below). Note how the artist exchanged the original knife that Fantomas holds with a flower. More about Magritte and Fantomas at the Matteson Art site. 

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