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René Magritte

René Magritte

(1898 - 1967)
Born: Lessines, Belgium
Style: Surrealism
Famous Works:
  • The Lovers (1928)
  • The Treachery of Images (1928-29)
  • The Son of Man (1964)
Though René Magritte studied art from a young age, he did not find his way artistically for some time. Magritte's mother committed suicide when he was only thirteen, an event that had a tremendous impact; it has been asserted that this experience would forever shape his work. Early in his career, Magritte dabbled in Impressionism and Futurism and studied in Brussels at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts. The artist's first exhibition opened in 1927 and was the subject of tremendous criticism. Magritte was so upset by the response that he packed up and left Brussels. Magritte lived and worked in Paris until 1930, where he met André Breton and became involved with the Surrealists. His signature style was formed in this time, with his almost invisible brushwork, and compositions of seemingly unrelated objects. Often one element morphed into another, as the sky became a wall, or shoes became feet. This playful style revealed his interest in undermining reality, calling the viewer's preconceptions into question. One of Magritte's most famous paintings is The Treachery of Images, which attacked the acceptance of characterization and imagery. In the work, an image of a pipe is accompanied by the words, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe", in English, "This is not a pipe." Magritte's trademark was a constant questioning of principles and beliefs, and an unwillingness to live within conventional artistic boundaries. He was included in several Surrealist exhibitions and his success became permanent in the second half of his career, when he received numerous commissions and awards. The graphic quality of his work has influenced many Pop artists, and is beloved today by a large audience.
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