Photo cc of renemagritte.com
After learning about other surrealist artists I have finally come to my favorite surrealist artist, René Magritte. In fact it was he who inspired my thirst for knowing more about surrealism and the movement behind such wonderful paintings. The reason I love Magritte’s paintings the most is because surrealism was more of an artistic technique for Magritte than a way of painting. That might not make sense but Magritte did not paint what he saw whilst in a dream state. Rather he took everyday objects and placed them in bizarre situations.
René Magritte was born in Belgium in 1898 and died of cancer in 1967. His mother drowned herself in 1912 which some say was the inspiration for the veiled people in his paintings Lover’s I and II and his painting Rape. in 1916 Magritte went to study at Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. He only stayed for two years and found himself studying Cubism. Much of his early work is influenced by the cubist artist Pablo Picasso. In 1921 Magritte served his one year of compulsory military service. He returned home and married Georgette Berger whom he had known his whole life. They stayed married the rest of their lives. For one year after their marriage Magritte worked as a draughtsman in a wallpaper factory, and then became a poster and advertisement manager until 1926, all the while studying painting. It was around this time that Magritte saw The Song of Love by Giorgio de Chirico and became inspired to paint in a surrealist style. Magritte contracted with Galerie la Centaure in Brussels and started painting full time. His work was not received well in Brussels-after his first exhibition in Brussels the critics showered him with unpleasant criticism. Magritte moved to Paris after his failure and became involved with the surrealist group and André Breton. When the Galerie la Centaure closed in 1929 cutting off Magritte’s income he decided to move back to Belgium and start a advertising agency with his brother. When Germany invaded Belgium during World War II Magritte chose to stay in Belgium which created a rift in his friendship with Breton. During the war Magritte’s style changed twice, once during 1934-44 which is considered his Renoir period, and then 1947-48 he painted in a Vauche style. In 1948 he returned to his pre-war style of painting.
“While some French Surrealists experimented with new techniques, Magritte settled on a deadpan, illustrative technique that clearly articulated the content of his pictures” (renemagritte.org).
“Placing familiar, mundane objects such as bowler hats, pipes and rocks in unusual contexts and juxtapositions, Magritte evoked themes of mystery and madness to challenge the assumptions of human perception” (biography.com).
“The illustrative quality of Magritte’s pictures often results in a powerful paradox: images that are beautiful in their clarity and simplicity, but which also provoke unsettling thoughts. They seem to declare that they hide no mystery, and yet they are also marvelously strange” (theartstory.com).
Here is a link to some poems by Hannah Weiner about some Magritte paintings: Hannah Weiner Poems.
I also created a vine about a children’s book called Dinner at Magritte’s by Michael Garland. Dinner at Magritte’s Vine
Rene Magritte– This is a great website devoted to Magritte and has two different places to look at his paintings.
The Human Condition 1933
Rene Magritte– This is a great website dedicated to Rene Magritte. They have two different areas that you can look at pictures at: Masterpieces of Rene Magritte and Selected Rene Magritte Paintings.
Tomkins, C., & Duchamp, M. (1966). The world of Marcel Duchamp, 1887-. New York: Time.
Rubin, W. (1968). Dada, Surrealism, and their heritage. New York: Museum of Modern Art; distributed by New York Graphic Society, Greenwich, Conn.
Crispolti, E. (1970). Ernst, Miró, and the surrealists. New York: McCall Pub.