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Paul Delvaux

Paul Delvaux

(1897 - 1994)
Born: Arnheit, Belgium
Style: Surrealism
Famous Works:
  • The Joy of Life (1937)
  • The Sleeping Venus (1944)
  • Loneliness (1956)
Paul Delvaux was born in Belgium and studied architecture in Brussels, a study that would come to inform his work. Always intent on working as an artist, Delvaux took painting classes in addition to his other studies. In his early career Paul Delvaux tinkered with Impressionism and Expressionism before joining the Surrealist movement. Even though Delvaux was only briefly associated officially with the Surrealists, he was strongly tied to the tradition. The painter depicted idealized nude or half-nude women in dreamy scenes. The figures appear to be suspended between life, death, and a dream-state in his paintings, and all look similar, as if the same woman is the central character in his work. Another component of Delvaux's work is classical architecture. He visited Italy in 1939 and was inspired by the urban masterpieces, much as Giorgio de Chirico was. The women roam the timeless scenes Delvaux painted, draped across friezes, standing among ionic columns, and posed in formation in the center of public squares. Skeletons also often appeared in the paintings, representing the element of death among the populations of drone-like beauty. Delvaux addresses love, loss, time, and the irrational and automated thoughts of the mind. After the close of World War II the popularity of Surrealism exploded and Delvaux's recognition came with it. He was invited to have a retrospective of his work at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels in 1944, cementing his international reputation. Delvaux taught at the École Superieure d'Art et d'Architecture in Brussels for twelve years. Paul Delvaux died in 1994 at the age of 96.
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