René Magritte's Famous Artworks
“The Lovers,” 1928
“The Treachery of Images,” 1929
“The Human Condition,” 1933
“Not to be Reproduced,” 1937
“Time Transfixed,” 1938
“The Son of Man,” 1964
René Magritte was a Belgian painter whose sharp and humorous imagery helped shape the Surrealist movement. Though he employed the use of clear, illustrative language, his work challenged the viewer’s preconceived notions concerning the nature of reality. René Magritte's artworks
are highly appreciated by the viewers.
René Magritte's Family Background
The eldest of three sons, René Francois Ghislain was born in November 1898, to Regina Bertinchamps, a former milliner, and Leopold Magritte, a wealthy textile manufacturer and tailor. Bertinchamps suffered from severe depression and the several attempts she made on her life over the years caused her husband to often lock her up in the bedroom. When Magritte was 14 years old, his mother escaped from the house and was missing for days before her body washed up in a neighboring river. There is some speculation as to whether the artist was present as she was hauled out of the water as many of his later paintings feature a woman whose face is obscured by clinging material, but this theory has since been discredited as the imaginings of Magritte’s nurse. Four years after his mother’s suicide, Magritte enrolled at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Brussels in order to study painting. However, the dry academic structure of the institution left him unfulfilled, and his attendance was poor. He did form a close alliance with Victor Servranckx, a fellow student, who introduced him to the concepts of Futurism and Cubism, greatly influencing the development of works such as “Bather” in 1925.
René Magritte's Early Career
In 1922, after serving his obligatory term as an infantryman in Austria and Antwerp, Magritte married his childhood friend Georgette Berger and for one year did commercial work for a local wallpaper factory, designing advertisements and placards under Servranckx’s supervision. Thus began a career as a freelance draughtsman, illustrating posters and publicity for various products and companies before signing a contract with the Brussel-based Galerie le Centaure in 1926, which briefly allowed him to make a living in fine art.
Magritte had encountered the eerie work of Giorgio de Chirico the previous year and begun working more specifically within the surrealist vernacular. He adopted many of de Chirico’s motifs — trains, orbs, empty avenues — transposing them on to his own canvases, recreating the older painter’s forsaken atmosphere inside of his oeuvre.
In 1927, Magritte held his first solo exhibition at the Galerie de Centaure, displaying over 60 pieces in various styles and perspectives. Unfortunately, it was a massive critical failure, causing him and his wife to move to Paris later that year. Relocating to France proved beneficial to the development of Magritte’s artistic style and he formed a strong friendship with André Breton, who was then one of the key members of the Surrealist movement. Magritte's paintings
depicted experimentation with more disturbing themes, using madness and hysteria as starting points; but he soon bored of the group’s obsession with dark subject matter and began searching for different creative stimulus.
The Effects of the War on René Magritte
Galerie le Centaure closed in 1930, and the termination of his contract meant a return to commercial design. Magritte’s return to Brussels caused a falling out between him and Breton, who was horrified at his friend’s willingness to remain in Belgium despite the German occupation. But Magritte’s existence was far from comfortable, and the advertising work he received had to be supplemented with forgeries of Picasso and Braque and the production of counterfeit currency. There was little time to devote to his own art. But by the end of the 1930s, Magritte was well known in the international market, with the patronage of the English collector Edward James offering a considerable financial independence, and he gave up commercial work altogether.
René Magritte's Later Years
The 1950s saw the return of basic elements of Surrealism in the artist’s production. “The Promenades of Euclid,” “The Empire of Lights,” and “The Son of Man” are all examples of Magritte’s fascination for mystery and unknowing. You can buy René Magritte's artworks online
He died in August of 1967 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer and is buried in the Schaerbeek Cemetery in Brussels. The Magritte Museum, which houses a collection of over 200 original paintings, photographs and films, opened in May 2009.
René Magritte's Major Exhibitions
1927 - Galerie Le Centaure, Paris
1965 - Museum of Modern Art, New York
1999 - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
2003 - Bildmuseet, Umea
2006 - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
2007 - Galerie Brusberg, Berlin
2008 - Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris
René Magritte's Museums/Collections
Magritte Museum, Brussels
National Gallery of Australia
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Art Institute of Chicago
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice
Tate Gallery, London
“Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary” by Stephanie d’Alessandro and Michel Draguet
“Magritte: Attempting the Impossible” by Siegfried Gohr
“Magritte’s Imagination” by Susan Goldman Rubin
“This is Not a Pipe” by Michel Foucault and James Harkness
“Magritte” by Marcel Paquet