Sunday, April 7, 2013

Magritte: Surrealism Concluded

Rene Magritte was born in Lessines and is considered the most influential Belgian artist of the 20th century. Although Magritte's childhood remains somewhat a mystery, art historians do know he was the oldest son of his family and that his mother experienced terrible depression. Indeed, when Magritte was 13 his mother left their home in the middle of the night and committed suicide by drowning herself in the river by their house. Magritte was present when her body was discovered days later in the river; the image of his dead mother would haunt him for the remainder of his life and would be the subject of some of his paintings. Although Magritte's childhood was tragic, his future was bright. He married his childhood sweetheart and muse Georgette Berger. Magritte studied at the Academia Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussel but became bored with the material.


In 1926 Magritte produced the first of many surrealist paintings. Magritte, like Dali, specialized in oneric surrealism - recognizable scenes metamorphosed into dream images, and in some cases nightmares; however, unlike Dali's paintings that illustrated the consistency of objects, Magritte juxtaposed ordinary objects in extraordinary ways. Magritte also played with the logic and placement of objects in his paintings. For instance, most recognizable painting The Treachery (or Perfidy) of Imagaes features a large pipe as the object of the composition, under the pipe are the words "This is not a pipe". Magritte's purpose for this painting was two fold: first, he had a since of humour (another similarity between him and Dali); second, he wanted to illustrate the difference between expectations and reality. The focus of the painting is a pipe, but the painting was created with canvas, paint, and additional painting tools. the painting is a piece of art, the painting is not a pipe.

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