Rene Magritte’s famous Surrealist painting “The Castle of the Pyrenees” has been displayed in the contemporary art gallery of the Israel Museum since 1985.
The painting began as a commissioned work aimed at covering the ugly scenery outside the windows of the artist’s respected friend, lawyer, and art lover Harry Torczyner’s New York City office.
Today, the story of this famous painting by a Belgian artist and how it was passed on to Israel’s largest art institution is the focus of “Drift with Magritte: Castle in the Air”. A symbolic work.
A mysterious painting is drawn in the center of the blue wall of the dove in the exhibition, to Magritte’s stones and rocks through related works as well as works by Magritte and other artists influenced by his strange castle. The evolution of the focus is being explored.
A Belgian artist and his Jewish, Belgian-born friend and patron Torchiner met in 1957 and soon formed a bond as a kinship spirit.
Torczyner was raised by a nanny, a Dutch school teacher who taught poetry and art to Torczyner and his brothers because his mother was a family business and his father was a prisoner of war in Siberia during World War I. ..
He fled Belgium with his wife Marcel Shiva Torchiner during World War II. After the young couple arrived in New York, Torczyner studied law at Columbia University, earned a degree, and began practicing international law. But art is his passion, and Torczyner bought the artwork even when his young family was financially struggling.
“He had a genius to choose them,” his daughter, Evelyn Smasher Schecter, said on the phone with The Times of Israel.
Magritte and Torchiner contacted regularly after the meeting, and in 1958 Torchiner asked Magritte to paint his portrait.
When Torchiner received the portrait in October 1958, he explained to Magritte how his family reacted to it. For her young friends. Her sister, who knows the power of the sovereign, praises it, and my wife likes it so much that she declares “justice has been done” … what name do you book for this portrait? Did you do it? “
“We didn’t care about figs when he painted his father’s portrait,” Musher Shechter said, adding that the walls of the apartment where their rent was managed were covered with bookshelves or paintings. I did. “Many people painted my dad. I like it because it was fun. Some others were very dark, but he loved it.”
Magritte’s “Castle of the Pyrenees” was Torchiner’s next committee and was discussed at every stage of communication between art lovers and artists.
“Magritte worked that way,” said Smasher Schecter. “He wanted such an input.”
Torczyner made some suggestions from preliminary sketches, including a preference for the rugged waters that portrayed the North Sea as a child, but it was a sunny day.
It took a month after Magritte finished his work to reach Torchiner, who wrote he was “in heaven.”
“LONG LIVE MAGRITTE! …” The Castle of the Pyrenees “is proudly floating. It’s great … and unscathed! The waves of the North Sea bring me fresh air and joy. For now, the painting hangs on the wall, but a custom-made frame is attached to cover the window, “writes Torczyner.
The paintings remained in Torchiner’s office for nearly 20 years and were rarely exhibited at exhibitions. Torczyner persuaded the Museum of Modern Art in New York to hold a comprehensive exhibition of Magritte’s work in 1965.
Torczyner preferred to be known as an art lover, not an art collector, Musher Shechter said.
But while he endorsed and bought the work of many artists, she said, “the Magritte he really made.” “He pushed and pushed to get the MOMA show, and it’s what brought Magritte to the world.”
Magritte died of pancreatic cancer in 1967 at the age of 68. In 1985, Torchiner decided to donate this work to the Israel Museum to commemorate the 20th anniversary of its founding.
“Today, the Castle of the Pyrenees is leaving my office for Jerusalem,” Torchiner wrote at the time. “Because Magritte set the necessary trajectory as an element he thought was necessary for his painting, it would make another voyage across time and space. In Jerusalem, the Castle of the Pyrenees was another magical rock, Join the tower, the wall. “
Torczyner followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather as a longtime supporter of the Jewish state, both before and after the country was founded. He was a founding member of the American Friends of the Israel Museum, was deeply involved in the establishment of the Jerusalem-based institution and worked closely with the first board of directors.
He thought Magritte would be popular with children, his daughter said, and it has attracted many up-and-coming artists to sit in front of the piece and copy it.
“He insisted that it was there, not a trip,” Musher Shechter said.
but  Gulf War, when the museum tries to remove work from the wall [to keep it safe]Torczyner claimed it remained hanging on the wall of the gallery.
The entire Torczyner art collection was sold at auction in 1995 when he got sick as he grew older and needed additional funding to ensure continued care of his wife.
“The entire collection has been sold,” says Musher Shechter. ” [Lucio] Fontanas, [Frank] Stella, [Francis] Bacon that my mother doesn’t like. When they were auctioning bacon, my mother said, “What do I have to pay them to take it?”
However, the “Castle of the Pyrenees” donated to the Israeli Museum remains there to this day.
Harry Torczyner died in 1998 at the age of 87. The sale of his collection took care of Marcel Shiva Torziner until his death in 2007. Since then, many of his works have been incorporated into the museum’s collections, his daughter says.
“There were iconic paintings. I always thought they belonged to a public place because people should enjoy them,” she said.