NOVEMBER 21, ON THIS DAY
“As regards the artists themselves, most of them gave up their freedom quite lightly, placing their art at the service of someone or something. As a rule, their concerns and their ambitions are those of any old careerist. I thus acquired a total distrust of art and artists, whether they were officially recognised or were endeavouring to become so, and I felt that I had nothing in common with this guild. I had a point of reference which held me elsewhere, namely that magic within art which I had encountered as a child.”
― Rene Magritte
Rene Magritte was a famous Belgian artist known for his unique surrealist works. Magritte’s Surrealist paintings are brilliant, funny, and sardonic; his most well-known being The Treachery of Imagery. He is well renowned for his illusionistic images that challenged the viewer’s notions of reality. In addition, he created sculptures and applied a surrealist perspective to well-known paintings. Regardless of the format or subject matter, most of his works juxtapose everyday objects in unusual settings, consistently immersing the audience in a weird yet entirely real world. Magritte is noted for changing the shapes of both people and objects, often to the point of generating entirely new objects and notions. This gave his works of art a perplexing allure that compelled spectators to reevaluate their own ideas of reality.
Rene Francois Ghislain Magritte was born on November 21, 1898 in Lessines, Belgium. He had an emotive vision of art and was undoubtedly the most well-known Belgian artist of the 20th century. In 1910, he first became involved with art through drawing classes. He chose to enroll in the Academic des Beaux-Arts in Brussels from 1916 to 1918 to pursue his interest in art, but he abandoned the programme because of his wholly unique aesthetic sensibility. He also studied under painter and poster artist Gisbert Combaz at the Academie Royale. His paintings from 1918 to 1924 were influenced by Metzinger’s figurative Cubism and futurism. Impressionistic painting style characterised Magritte’s earlier works, which date to around 1915. Up until 1926, Magritte worked as a draughtsman at a wallpaper factory and designed posters and advertisements. A deal with Galerie Le Centaure in Brussels allowed him to pursue painting full-time. The Lost Jockey (Le jockey perdu), which Magritte created in 1926, was the subject of his first surrealist painting. In 1927, he staged his first solo show in Brussels.
The sky, mirrors, sexual imagery, and paintings within paintings were among the reoccurring themes in many of Magritte’s works. He also developed a specific aesthetic that he never departed from. He frequently altered the setting in which ordinary items appeared, whether by changing their viewpoint, their range, or some of their fundamental qualities. By doing this, he transformed the objects themselves by dispelling any preconceived notions that might have been attached to them. For example, a comb, matchstick, glass, and cosmetics brush are shown in Personal Values in a bedroom that also includes a bed, cabinet, and rugs. The bedroom’s wallpaper has the appearance of a sky, and the objects are all abnormally huge. The small bedroom here resembles a matchbox or jewellery box, but the sky walls give it a larger-than-life appearance. Attempting the Impossible, The Delights of Landscape, and The Son of Man, possibly his most well-known painting, are just a few examples of how his works frequently reveal or conceal something from the observer. In the first, the artist literally brings the subject to life by painting it, allowing the observer to watch the woman’s form in real time. The picture in ‘The delights of landscape’ is merely empty space; it is not even a blank canvas. The latter self-portrait, on the other hand, shows him with an apple hovering in midair, covering his face.
He left behind a legacy in the realm of art when he passed away in 1967 from a pancreatic attack. He was a pioneer of the surrealism movement, providing a fresh perspective to the art and influencing viewers’ perspectives. Despite the fact that most of his work was first made public in the 1960s, his masterpieces The Son of Man and The Treachery of Images ended up becoming the surrealism movement’s defining images. Rene Magritte’s numerous works of art, including paintings, sketches, and sculptures, are displayed in the Magritte Museum, which opened in 2009 in the Hotel Altenloh in Brussels.