Rene Magritte, a Belgian surrealist artist, whose work persistently challenged the stipulated perceptions of the society by portraying ordinary objects in an unusual thought-provoking context, questioning the observer. His surrealism was an elixir to the seemingly conventional subject matter. Rene’s Artwork and imagery influenced pop art, minimalist art, and conceptual art, stirring seminal artistic movements.
Who was Rene Magritte?
Belgian surrealist, Rene Magritte, born in 1898, in the province of Hainaut, Belgium. Son of Leopold Magritte, a tailor and merchant, and Regina, who committed suicide by drowning herself in 1912. This incident had quite an impact on young Rene as it is known that when her body was retrieved, he was present at the site. He was surely the most celebrated Belgian artist of the 20th century with an evocative vision of art. His association with art started with drawing classes in 1910. From 1916 to 1918 he decided to study art at Academic des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, which he left as his perception was completely idiosyncratic for art. In 1922, he got married to Georgette and took several small jobs to make a reasonable living.
Rene Magritte’s Art Journey
Magritte used to describe his paintings saying, “My painting is visible images which conceals nothing; they evoke mystery and indeed when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question, what does this mean? It does not mean anything because mystery means nothing, it is unknowable.” In the early period of his career, he used to spend the free time he had creating art forms and working on some art pieces. It was that time he ascertained his inclination to words surrealism. His early works dating from 1915, were impressionistic in style, further her works between 1918 to 1924 were highly influenced by futurism and by the Figurative Cubism of Metzinger. In 1926, he drew his first surreal piece of art, The Last Jockey. Hauled by criticism of his first solo exhibition held in Brussels, in 1927, he shifted to Paris where he became friends with Andre Breton who got him into the surrealist group. Afterward, he became the leading member of the group. At the same time, he produced paintings inspired by De Chirico’s Paintings between 1910 to 1920. The artwork was objects juxtaposed in imaginary surroundings, displaying a split between the visual automation upheld by John Miro and a new form of Illusionistic surrealism practiced by Salvador Dali.
At the very early stage of his works exhibited a technique of concealing. To Magritte What is concealed is more important than what is vividly open to see, “Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.” His works, The Invention of Life, The Lover, and The Central Story, had a very strong evocativeness, through his concealing and revealing techniques, like wrapping bodies with a cloth or veiling faces. During World War II, Magritte had to stay in Brussels, which led to loosening his ties with his fellow artist Andre Breton. This break with him was also reflected in his work where Rene Magritte Briefly adopted a colorful painting style between 1943 to 1944 known as his ‘Renoir Period’. This can also be ascertained as a reaction to the feeling of abandonment and alienation that came along with residing in a German-occupied Belgium. In this duration, he earned a living by producing fake buildings of Vincent Van Gogh, Picasso, and Cezanne. For the remainder of his life, he stayed in Brussels. The majority of his art was surreal and rarely he produced anything distinct from it. His main style of artwork was to animate objects within a human figure, creating a painting within a painting, creating out of the closet scenarios making the observer question the streamlined perception of society. In his career period, he also used famous paintings created by other Artists and infused his surrealism character in it. One such artwork is a recreation of The Balcony by Edouard Manet, where Rene substituted human figures with wooden coffins. The painting, The Treachery of Images, where he painted below the pipe, ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe’ meaning this is not a pipe, clarifying he said when questioned about the painting, that of course, it is not a pipe, try to fill it with tobacco. In the later part of his career along with being devoted to surrealist work, he began to work on sculpture. His sculptures were also evocative, pushing to read between the lines, with the playful character. His pieces were well-known pieces of art throughout his life.
Magritte Artistic Gestures
Rene Magritte’s artworks were a free-spirited form of ordinary objects set in an unusual context rendering newer meanings to conventional entities. With a similar approach, he painted an apple and denied that it was not an apple with a caption. Likewise, in his ‘Ceci n’est pas’ works he tries to point out the fact that no matter how naturalistically we depict an object, we never do catch the item itself. His works and ability to depict the picture in a representable yet suggestive and questioning style have inspired many artists throughout his life. Some artists including John Baldessari, Jasper Johns, Luis Rey, Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, were highly influenced by Rene’s art. Much of his work has now been plagiarised and used in books, print ads, and other forms.
He died in 1967, of a pancreatic attack, leaving a legacy in the world of art. He was a leader in the surrealist style, bringing a new way to look at the art and mold the vision of the observer. His masterpieces, The Son of Man and The Treachery of Images. Became the emblematic images of the surrealism movement, though much of his work was bought to light in the 1960s. The Magritte Museum was opened in 2009, in Hotel Altenloh, Brussels, which exhibits Rene Magritte’s numerous works of art encompassing paintings, drawings, and sculptures.