Photobombing Magritte

Today’s Bizarro, which requires that you recognize a painting and know the word photobomb:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 6 in this strip — see this Page.)

From the point of view of the peach and the orange, the image on the screen (Magritte’s painting “Son of Man”) is a photobombing of a portrait of a conventionally dressed bowler-hatted man (Magritte himself, it seems). A green apple appears unexpectedly in the portrait, in this case, interfering with and obscuring the portrait’s central image. In photobombing, the unexpected element may appear in the field of view unintentionally — irrelevant but noticeable things just happen to be caught in the scene — but it can be intentional — the unexpected element has been deliberately inserted into the scene by someone, as a prank. Only rarely does the unexpected element obscure the central image in the scene.

So from the point of view of the fruit, Magritte’s image is doubly awesome: it’s intentional (the work of a prankster, but who? why not the apple itself, acting on its own!); and it conceals the identity of the portrait’s subject (as in other bowler-hat paintings by the artist), thus subverting the idea of portraiture itself, while making a piece of fruit the actual focus of the work. Fruut Rulz.

From NOAD:

verb photobombinformal [with object] [a] spoil a photograph of (a person or thing) by unexpectedly appearing in the camera’s field of view as the picture is taken, typically as a prank or practical joke: we were interrupted and photobombed by at least twenty tourists | (as noun photobombing): the concept of photobombing has probably been around as long as photography. [b] spoil (a photograph) by unexpectedly appearing in the camera’s field of view as the picture is taken: she actually photobombed a picture of me with Jonah.

noun photobomb: a photograph that has been spoiled by the unexpected appearance of an unintended subject in the camera’s field of view as the picture was taken: everyone loves a good photobomb and it’s even more hilarious when celebrities get in on the action. ORIGIN 21st century…

The subentries for the transitive verb photobomb differ in their syntax, specifically in their argument structures: in [a], the direct object of the verb photobomb denotes the thing represented in the photograph; in [b], it denotes the photograph itself. Consider this example of accidental photobombing:


(#2) Photograph of a set of police officers, unintentionally featuring some notable Clydesdales as well

With argument structure as in [a]:

Some horses (accidentally) photobombed the cops. The cops were (accidentally) photobombed (by some horses).

With argument structure as in [b]:

Some horses (accidentally) photobombed the picture (of the cops). The picture (of the cops) was (accidentally) photobombed (by some horses).

And then this example of deliberate photobombing:


(#3) Reuters photograph of the band U2 at the 2014 Oscar ceremonies, with actor Benedick Cumberbatch intentionally inserting himself into the picture

With argument structure as in [a]:

Cumberbatch (deliberately) photobombed U2. U2 was/were (deliberately) photobombed (by Cumberbatch).

With argument structure as in [b]:

Cumberbatch (deliberately) photobombed the picture (of U2). The picture (of U2) was (deliberately) photobombed (by Cumberbatch).

Intentional photobombing is a variant of the bunny-earing gesture (functioning as a prank): see my 5/21/18 posting “bunny ears”.

Previously on this blog about the Magritte painting:

on 7/19/12 in “Magritte”: Rhymes With Orange allusion to Magritte’s “The Son of Man” (in the first image); “The painting has been much parodied”, with three examples

on 3/5/15 in “Surreal plus”: Zippy cartoonization of the painting, going from Magritte’s original to Zippy with a bowling ball in two steps

on 12/10/17 in “Son of Snowman”: another Rhymes allusion to the painting

on 5/16/18 in “Surreal beer”: a Bizarro/Wayno allusion to the painting

One more parody, with the Apple logo instead of an apple:


(#4) Rene Magritte Son Of Man Apple Computer Logo, a painting by Tony Rubino uploaded to Fine Art America on 12/19/13

Crossword bonus. Clue for a British (puns and anagrams) crossword puzzle:

Surrealist Oolong for a detective (8)

Answer in the comments section.

One Response to “Photobombing Magritte”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    Surrealist Oolong for a detective (8):

    T (for TEA) + MAIGRET anagrams to MAGRITTE

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