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 Rene Magritte  (1898 - 1967)

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About: Rene Magritte
 

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Lived/Active: Belgium      Known for: surrealist painting-figure, landscape

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BIOGRAPHY for Rene Magritte
Facts/Data
Birth
1898 (Lessines, Belgium)
 
Death
1967 (Brussels, Belgium)

Lived/Active
Belgium


© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Often Known For
surrealist painting-figure, landscape

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Rene Magritte was born on November 21,1898 in the town of Lessines in southern Belgium, near Brussels. He was the oldest of three brothers. He began taking art lessons at the age of twelve. Between 1916 and 1921 he was enrolled at the Academie Royale des Beaux Arts in Brussels, but he attended classes only occasionally. He had some published drawings, some advertising posters, a stint as a designer at a wallpaper factory and another doing freelance publicity work for a fashion house. He had toyed with Dada, Futurism and Cubism; he had designed magazine covers and stage sets and written song lyrics.

When he was only fourteen, Magritte woke one night to find his mother missing. He and his brothers searched the neighborhood and found her, drowned in a river after a jump from a bridge. Her nightgown was folded back over her face by the current. Several of his paintings painted through his life used a nude woman with various references to this tragic loss.

In 1922 a young friend of Magritte's showed him in a magazine he brought back from Paris, a smudgy reproduction of a work by the prewar precursor of surrealism, Giorgio de Chirico. On seeing it, Magritte uncharacteristically burst into tears. Although it was a few years before Magritte abandoned his "modern" formula, he recognized the key to his own domain. In the years 1926 through 1930 he painted over two hundred and eighty pictures, some of them very large. Max Ernst was another influence.

Magritte and his wife, Georgette Berger, were married for over forty-five years and had no children. They lived in Brussels at the same address from 1930 to 1954; he used to take his little dog for a walk every day. The Magrittes lived for three years in a Paris suburb, and Rene was in daily contact with the surrealists. He painted regularly four mornings a week at home in his stuffy little apartment. He was a moon-faced little man, middle-aged, who puttered around Brussels, proving that he has all the technical facility of the best surrealists and none of their nightmare overtones.

By the time Magritte died in 1967 at the age of sixty-eight, his genius was acknowledged.

Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Sources include:
Pipeline to Pop by Kenneth Baker, ARTnews, September 1999
Los Angeles Times, April 14, 1998
Peter Plagens in Newsweek Magazine, July 6, 1992
M.Therese Southgate, MD in Journal of the American Medical Association, July 5, 1995
Magritte, The Man in the Bowler Hat by George Melly in Art & Antiques Magazine, April 1992
From the internet, artchive.com

Biography from RoGallery.com:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Rene Magritte was born on the 21st November, 1898 in Hainaut, Belgium. His father was a tailor and a merchant. As his business did not go well the family had to move often. René lost his mother early and tragically – she committed suicide for unclear reasons. René was only 14 years old at the time.

From 1916 through 1918 Magritte studied in the Royal Academy of Arts in Brussels (Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts). He became a wallpaper designer and commercial artist.  His early painting works were executed under the influence of the Cubism and Futurism (1918-20), then he was inspired by the Purists and Fernand Léger.  In 1922 Magritte married Georgette Berger, with whom he first became acquainted when fifteen years old. After meeting again in 1920, she became his model and then wife.

The acquaintance with Giorgio de Chirico's Pittura Metafisica (Metaphysical Painting) and Dadaistic poetry constituted an important artistic turning-point for Magritte.  In 1925 he came close with a group of Dadaists and co-operated in the magazines Aesophage and Marie, together with E.L.T. Mesens, Jean Arp, Francis Picabia, Schwitters, Tzara and Man Ray.

In 1926 Magritte painted The Lost Jockey, it is his first painting that he allowed to be labeled as "Surrealist". After his first, badly-received, one-man show in Brussels in 1927, he left for Paris.  In 1927-30 Magritte lived in France, where he participated in the activities of the Surrealists, establishing a close friendship in particular with Max Ernst, Dali, André Breton and especially with Paul Eluard.

In Paris, Magritte's system of conceptual painting was formed, it remained almost unchanged until the end of his life.  His painting manner, intentionally dry and academic, "polished in the technical sense" (p.18 Magritte. By Marcel Paquet. Taschen. 1992) with precise and clean draughtsmanship demonstrated a paradoxical ability to depict trustworthy an unreal, unthinkable reality.

In Magritte’s works the morphologically similar objects belonging to different classes, exchange some qualities or unite as hybrids (Companions of Fear. 1942, The Explanation, 1954, The Flavour of Tears, 1948); a night landscape gleams under daylit skies (The Empire of Lights 1954).

Demonstrating the problems of visual perception and illusionary of images, Magritte used the symbols of mirrors, eyes, windows, stages and curtains and pictures within pictures (The False Mirror, 1935, The Key to the Fields. 1936, Beautiful World. 1962.)

Magritte was fond of philosophy and literature.  Many of his paintings reflect his impressions of literature works, illusions and philosophical metaphors, e.g. The Giantess (after Baudelair) 1929-30; The Domain of Arnheim (after Edgar Poe) 1938; Hegel's Holiday. 1958 (homage to Hegel's dialectics).

In the 1940s Magritte made two attempts to change his painting style. But the so-called “vie-heureuse” or “plein-soleil” period of 1945-47, when he painted in the style of Renoir, and the “époque vache” (Cow Period) that followed in 1947-48 did not prove to be effective and the artist returned to his previous manner.

In the 1950s Magritte executed two fresco cycles: The Enchanted Realm for a casino in Knokke-le-Zut (1953) and The Ignorant Fairy (1957) for the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Charleroi. These monumental compositions repeat the motifs of his previous paintings. In his last year Magritte began to make sculptures of his painted images, developing the theme of correlation of mental and material realities.

Magritte died of cancer at the age of 69, August 15, 1967 in Brussels.

Biography from GallArt.com:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

René Magritte was a Belgian surrealist artist best known for his witty and thought-provoking images and his use of simple graphics and everyday objects, giving new meanings to familiar things. Before finding success as an artist, Magritte was designed wallpaper and advertisements. After a poorly received solo show in 1927, he moved to Paris and became firmly lodged in the surrealist movement.

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