René Magritte (1898-1967)

 René Magritte, has achieved great popular acclaim for his idiosyncratic approach to Surrealism.

Réne Magritte
Réne Magritte

image source: by Père Ubu

One of the most celebrated artist of the 20th century, René Magritte was a Belgian surrealist artist best known for his witty and thought-provoking images and his use of simple graphics and everyday imagery.

About his life

After attending art school in Brussels, Rene Magritte (November 21, 1898 –  August 15, 1967) spent many years working as a commercial artist to support himself he. He produced advertising and book designs which most likely shaped his art, often characterized by the abbreviated impact of an advertisement.

While some French Surrealists led ostentatious lives, Magritte preferred the quiet anonymity of a middle-class existence, a life symbolized by the bowler-hatted men that often populate his pictures, which can be interpreted as self-portraits. In later years, he was castigated by his peers for some of his strategies (such as his tendency to produce multiple copies of his pictures), yet since his death his reputation has only improved.

Son of Man, 1964
Son of Man, 1964

image source: by cedric.vandamme

René Magritte - Perspective (1949)
René Magritte – Perspective (1949)

image source: by Cea.


Identity and key concepts

Conceptual artists have admired his use of text in images, and painters in the 1980s admired the provocative kitsch of some of his later work.
While some French Surrealists experimented with new techniques, Magritte settled on a deadpan, illustrative technique that clearly articulated the content of his pictures.
The Lovers, René Magritte, MoMA, New York City
The Lovers, René Magritte, MoMA, New York City

image source: by Andrew Milligan sumo

Repetition was an important strategy for Magritte, informing not only his handling of motifs within individual pictures, but also encouraging him to produce multiple copies of some of his greatest works.
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.
Magritte was fascinated by the interactions of textual and visual signs, motivated by a spirit of rational enquiry and wonder at the misunderstandings that can lurk in language.
La Race Blanche - René Magritte
La Race Blanche – René Magritte

image source: by laudyrecords


The Treachery of Images (1929)

The Treachery of Images cleverly highlights the gap between language and meaning. Magritte combined the words and image in such a fashion that he forces us to question the importance of the sentence and the word.
The Treachery of Images, 1929
The Treachery of Images, 1929
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