In so much of his work, Rene Magritte wittily plays with these perceptions by adressing the problem laterally. In the Human Condition II, Magritte exemplifies the contraditions between the three-dimensional space and the limits of a two-dimensional canvas. More importantly the title refers to the relationship that humans have with those contraditions as part of the “the human condition”. As such Magritte continues the process of questioning the assumptions of Renaissance ideas of painting being a ‘Window on reality’, which had already begun to be debunked by Picasso and Braque in their cUBIST ‘laboratory’. For Picasso ‘reality was in the painting’, replacing trompe-l’oeil for what he called trompe-l’esprit.
The Human Condition II, was a variant of a painting executed in 1034, in which he began to explore the ideas around the theme of inside and outside. In the first version the painted canvas is placed in front of a glazed window. The second version adds another playful twist to the original, by siggesting that the viewer is already outside, looking through a trompe-l’oeil archway.
Michael Robinson & Donna Roberts; The World’s Greatest Art.