René Magritte was a famous Belgian surrealist artist of the 20th century, the author of many paintings with hidden meanings. His philosophical works are full of riddles and references to the art of illusionists. Rene Magritte called his artistic style “magical realism”, although he has long been recognized throughout the world as one of the greatest figures of surrealism.
Biography of Rene Magritte
Rene Francois Ghislain Magritte was born in 1898, in the French-speaking region of Belgium, in the family of a merchant and milliner. Magritte’s father was a restless man, and the family moved frequently from city to city. Subsequently, Magritte repeatedly mentioned a dislike for travel and change, because of these moves. At the age of 14, the teenager received a psychological trauma that left a deep mark on his soul: his mother, suffering from depression, drowned herself in the Sambre River.
Rene Magritte, speaking about this tragic event in his biography, could not determine whether the memory of how the white nightgown covered her mother’s face when she was pulled out of the water was real, or whether he himself thought up this detail. However, in some of the painter’s paintings, one can see faces hidden by the fabric (“Lovers”, “Invention of Life”, “The Heart of the Matter”) or plots involving drowning (“Collective Invention”).
In 1916, the young man moved to Brussels to begin his studies at the Royal Academy of Arts. During the First World War, many universities closed, and the Academy became the center of student life. Magritte became close to literary students and communication with their circle remained his lifelong preference.
In 1922, after completing military service, he married Georgette Berger, whom he met when he was 15 years old. His wife became his main model, Rene even preferred to work not in the studio, but in the kitchen, in order to be closer to her. He was helped to support his family by working as a designer at a wallpaper factory. The young artist also did not neglect part-time jobs, he painted music covers, advertising posters, movie posters.
Magritte soon became interested in the art of the Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico: how he boldly combined incompatible objects of reality, laying the foundations of the anachronism style. He tried many of de Chirico’s stylistic methods, experimenting with collages, juxtaposing identifiable objects, and creating double images.
By the end of the 1920s, Magritte’s style was finally formed.
When a group of artists, writers and poets in Paris united around André Breton, the founder of surrealism, Magritte joined them, although he did not fall under the charm of the ideas of psychoanalysis. In his version of surrealism, the main role was assigned not to the visualization of images of the subconscious, but to the paradoxical depiction of everyday objects in a non-standard context.
Three years later, the artist returned to Brussels, where he lived until his death, which followed on August 15, 1967. Real fame came to him only in the last decade of his life. And half a century later – the name of Rene Magritte sounds like a guarantee of the success of the auction. In February 2020, the painter, albeit posthumously, became a real winner of the Christie’s auction. The work Towards Pleasure was sold at auction for $24.6 million, two other works sold for nearly $5 and $3.9 million.
It is impossible to name “one of the most mysterious paintings of the master.” All his works carry a hidden meaning. And this applies not only to the actual pictorial masterpieces, but also to their names: Magritte believed that artionims are not an explanation of the image, and the canvas itself or graphics should not illustrate the name of the painting. But they correlate with each other, thereby affecting the viewer, forcing them to take a fresh look at the work of art.