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Rene Magritte
Rene Magritte
Rene Magritte
Born:1898-01-01   Died: 1967-01-01
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Rene Francois Ghislain Magritte was a Surrealist artist, born in Lessines, Belgium. In 1912, Magritte's mother committed suicide by drowning herself in the river Sambre. He studied at the Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels for two years until 1918. During this period he met Georgette Berger, whom he married in 1922.

Magritte produced his first surrealist painting, Le jockey perdu in 1926, and held his first exhibition in Brussels in 1927. The exhibition was not a success: critics heaped abuse on it. He was depressed by the failure of his show and he moved to Paris, France. A technician at heart, his work frequently contains a ordinary objects grouped together or in an unusual context, giving new meanings to familiar things. This representational use of objects as other than what they seem is typified by his paintings. In addition to these fantastic elements, his work is often witty and amusing, and he created a number of surrealist versions of other famous paintings.

Rene Magritte died on August 15, 1967 and was buried in Schaarbeek Cemetery, Brussels, Belgium.

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  • Rene Magritte
    Rene Magritte

    Imagination baffling paintings!

  • La Condition Humaine
    La Condition Humaine

    Year:1933
    Location:Private collection

    Magritte himself had this to say about this painting: In front of a window, as seen from the interior of a room, I placed a picture that represented precisely the portion of landscape blotted out by the picture.

    For the spectator it [the tree in the painting] was simultaneously inside the room; in the picture, and outside, in the real landscape, in thought." Space itself has become ambiguous in this strange painting. What is 'inside' and what is 'outside'?

  • La Duree Poignardee (Time transfixed).
    La Duree Poignardee (Time transfixed).

    Year:1938
    Location:Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

    Magritte's style was very realistic, with sharp lines and crisp edges. In his paintings, he tends to take two or more ordinary objects that are not strange on any level. He then takes these two unrelated objects and paints them together, creating something surreal. The effect the paintings give us is of something strange or bizarre and this is illustrated well in 'Time Transfised'

    Margitte says: "To be a surrealist... means barring from your mind all remembrance of what you have seen, and being always on the lookout for what has never been."

  • The Two Mysteries.
    The Two Mysteries.

    Year:1966
    Location:Private collection

    As usual, Margitte plays a visual trick with us. We see a pipe, painted on a canvass, and another pipe floating in space. Is one pipe more real than the other? Are both pipes illusions? This is a mystery.

    Margitte says: "The mind loves the unknown. It loves images whose meaning is unknown, since the meaning of the mind itself is unknown."

  • La Grande Guerre (The Great War)
    La Grande Guerre (The Great War)

    Year:1964
    Location:Private collection, Paris

    Here we see a person in a bowler hat with his face hidden by a large apple. Why this painting refers to war, is not obvious. Perhaps the apple hides something and there is a tension between what we see and what is hidden.

    "My painting is visible images which conceal nothing; they evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question "What does that mean? It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable." (Rene Magritte)

  • Le Jockey Perdu (The Lost Jockey).
    Le Jockey Perdu (The Lost Jockey).

    Year:1925
    Location:Private collection

    Magritte painted the 'Lost Jockey' after seeing de Chirico's painting 'The Song of Love'. Magritte felt that in this painting he had for the first time struck the special poetic and surrealist note that was to become his trademark.

    The mobility of horse and jockey is juxtaposed against the immobility of the trees. The starkness of the landscape further adding an eerie effect. At a first glance the scene seems plausible but becomes ridiculously absurd at the second.

  • L'Assassin Menace (The Menaced Assassin).
    L'Assassin Menace (The Menaced Assassin).

    Year:1926
    Location:The Museum of Modern Arts, New York, NY, USA.

    Magritte painted this piece while in the Parisian Surrealism scene. In this painting, two men in bowler hats, one holding a human limb as a club and the other holding a net, wait outside a room.

    In the room, a man listens to a record while a bleeding, nude female lies on a bed. Three men observe the scene from the outside.

    Here, Magritte explores space and perspective by playing with the foreground and background.

    Some critics liken this painting to an episode of Louis Feuillade's Fantomas, the evil genius of crime whom the Surrealists adopted as their corrupt hero. Fantomas was the sly criminal who never once, in a long lifetime of thirty-two volumes, got caught for any sort of wrongdoing. He turned human values and morality upside-down and always outsmarted the law.



Learning art through great artists and their paintings is fun and exciting. Our friend and resident artist Stefan Mager has kindly given this introduction to the art world.


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