Step right up, step right up! For just an extra $8 on top of your $25 museum ticket, you too can secure timed entry to the René Magritte exhibition The Fifth Season! Wind your way in line through a maze of cables! Gaze up at floor-to-ceiling velvety curtains in hues of luscious red! See the wonders of Magritte, Magritte, and more Magritte!
If this spiel sounds familiar, that’s because it’s summer blockbuster season. Even though that usually means something extravagant like last year’s de Young show, The Summer of Love Experience, SFMOMA’s exhibition of over 70 works from Magritte’s late career is earnestly sober. But name-brand recognition is a definite draw, and The Fifth Season, curated by SFMOMA’s Caitlin Haskell, is guaranteed to be crowded no matter when you visit.
This can be either good or bad, depending on how you like to view your art. If you’re into the vicarious kick of watching other people see things in real life they’ve only known as two-dimensional images shrunk to the size of a computer screen or an art history tome, you’ll enjoy the shuffle of The Fifth Season.
If you, like me, prefer your views of seminal surrealist works unobstructed, just be patient. Everyone’s here to have fun.
Though “fun-filled” is not the first phrase I’d use to describe the mood in The Fifth Season, which elegantly occupies the Botta side of the museum’s fourth-floor galleries in thematic rather than chronological groupings.