Category: Rene Magritte

Rene Magritte was a Belgian surrealist artist.René became well known for creating a number of witty and thought-provoking images. Often depicting ordinary objects in an unusual context, his work is known for challenging observers’ preconditioned perceptions of reality.

Rene Magritte Timeline

  • 1898- 1925 Early Years
  • 1926- 1930 Paris
  • 1931- 1942 Brussels
  • 1943- 1947 Sunlit Period
  • 1947- 1948 Vache Period
  • 1949- 1960 Mature Period
  • 1961- 1967 Later Years

Magritte Rene Early life

Rene Magritte was born in Lessines, in the province of Hainaut, Belgium, in 1898. He was the oldest son of , . Thereafter, he and his two brothers were raised by his grandmother.Little is known about Magritte’s early life. He began lessons in drawing in 1910.

René François Ghislain Magritte was born in Lessines, Belgium, on November 21, 1898, the oldest of three boys. His parents , Léopold Magritte a tailor and textile merchant, and Régina , who was a milliner before she got married .His father’s manufacturing business at times allowed the family to live in relative comfort, but financial difficulties were a constant threat and forced them to move about the country with some regularity. Magritte’s young world was dealt a far more destructive blow in 1912.

The tragic death of his mother – 1912

On 12 March 1912, his mother committed suicide by drowning herself in the River Sambre. This was not her first attempt at taking her own life; she had made many over a number of years, driving her husband Léopold to lock her into her bedroom. One day she escaped, and was missing for days. Her body was later discovered a mile or so down the nearby river.

According to a legend, 13-year-old Magritte was present when her body was retrieved from the water, but recent research has discredited this story, which may have originated with the family nurse. Supposedly, when his mother was found, her dress was covering her face, an image that has been suggested as the source of several of Magritte’s paintings in 1927–1928 of people with cloth obscuring their faces, including Les Amants (The lovers) and The Invention of Life (L’Invention De-La-Vie) 1928 .Magritte found solace from the tragedy in films and novels and especially through painting.Magritte disagreed with such interpretations, denying any relation between his paintings and his mother’s death. “My painting is visible images which conceal nothing,” he wrote, “they evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question, ‘What does it mean?’ It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable.”

The beggining of Magritte’s Career

Magritte’s earliest paintings, which date from about 1915, were Impressionistic in style. During 1916–1918, he studied at the Brussels Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels,under Constant Montald, but found the instruction uninspiring. He also took classes at the Académie Royale from the painter and poster designer Gisbert Combaz.Although he was ultimately unimpressed with the institution, he was nonetheless exposed to emerging styles such as cubism and futurism, which significantly altered the direction of his work. Indeed, many of Magritte’s paintings during 1918–1924 were influenced by Futurism and by the figurative Cubism of Metzinger and Pablo Picasso.

Magritte Inspiration came from “the song of love” 1922

From December 1920 until September 1921, Magritte served in the Belgian infantry in the Flemish town of Beverlo near Leopoldsburg. Magritte married Georgette Berger in June 1922. Georgette was the daughter of a butcher in Charleroi, and first met Magritte when she was 13 and he was 15. They met again 7 years later in Brussels in 1920 and Georgette, who had also studied art, became Magritte’s model, muse, and wife. Also during 1922, the poet Marcel Lecomte showed Magritte a reproduction of Giorgio de Chirico’s The Song of Love 1914. The work brought Magritte to tears; he described this as “one of the most moving moments of my life: my eyes saw thought for the first time.” The work had a great influence on Magritte’s artistic approach. For the next few years he developed a singular style that comprised carefully rendered everyday objects often placed in enigmatic juxtapositions. The paintings of the Belgian symbolist painter William Degouve de Nuncques have also been noted as an influence on Magritte, specifically the former’s painting The Blind House (1892) and Magritte’s variations or series on The Empire of Lights.

The Surrealist movement

In 1926, Magritte produced his first surreal painting, The Lost Jockey (Le jockey perdu) . The same year , Magritte signed a contract with a Brussels art gallery, which allowed him to become a full-time painter. With early works such as The Lost Jockey and The Menaced Assassin, Magritte quickly became one of the most important artists in Belgium and found himself at the center of its nascent surrealist movement. But when his first one-man show—in 1927 at the Galerie le Centaure—was poorly received, a disheartened Magritte left his homeland.

Magritte and Paris Surrealists 1926 – 1930

Depressed by the failure, he moved to Paris.There he met and befriended several of the Paris Surrealists, including poets André Breton and Paul Éluard, and he became familiar with the collages of Max Ernst and became involved in the Surrealist group. An illusionistic, dream-like quality is characteristic of Magritte’s version of Surrealism. Magritte began to integrate text into some of his works.During this time he painted one of his most famous pieces, The Treachery of Images 1929, in which a detailed representation of a pipe is combined with the cursive statement: Ceci n’est pas une pipe (“This is not a pipe”). The painting questioned the authority of both images and words.In 1929 he exhibited at Goemans Gallery in Paris with Salvador Dalí, Jean Arp, de Chirico, Max Ernst, Joan Miró, Picabia, Picasso and Yves Tanguy.

Brussels 1930 – Ney York 1936 – London 1938

Galerie Le Centaure closed at the end of 1929, ending Magritte’s contract income. Having made little impact in Paris, Magritte returned to Brussels in 1930 and resumed working in advertising.He and his brother, Paul, formed an agency which earned him a living wage. In 1932, Magritte joined the Communist Party, which he would periodically leave and rejoin for several years. In 1936 Magritte’s marriage became troubled when he met a young performance artist, Sheila Legge, and began an affair with her. Magritte arranged for his friend, Paul Colinet, to entertain and distract Georgette, but this led to an affair between Georgette and Colinet. Magritte and his wife did not reconcile until 1940. In 1936 he had his first solo exhibition in the United States at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York, followed by an exposition at the London Gallery in 1938.

Edward James

During the early stages of his career, the British surrealist patron Edward James allowed Magritte to stay rent-free in his London home, where Magritte studied architecture and painted. James is featured in two of Magritte’s works painted in 1937, Le Principe du Plaisir (The Pleasure Principle) and La Reproduction Interdite, a painting also known as Not to Be Reproduced. Beginning in the late 1930s Magritte received a fair amount of large commissions and international popularity.

The “Renoir period” / Sunlit period

During the German occupation of Belgium in World War II he remained in Brussels, which led to a break with Breton. He briefly adopted a colorful, painterly style in 1943–44, an interlude known as his “Renoir period”, as a reaction to his feelings of alienation and abandonment that came with living in German-occupied Belgium.