Page 7 || Encyclopedia Article || Fantasy Arts || Modern Surrealism Art Observation || Magritte
Magritte, Ren Franois Ghislain (1898-1967), Belgian painter, one of the major surrealists. Magritte was born in Lessines, a small town in Belgium. He studied at the Acadmie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, the capital of Belgium where he later settled permanently. Magritte was interested in the modern European movements of cubism and futurism before he discovered the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico in 1923. The unusual combination of objects in de Chirico's works influenced Magritte's choice of subject matter.
In 1926 Magritte met Andr Breton, founder of the surrealism movement, and he became involved with the surrealist painters in Paris, where he worked from 1927 to 1930. By the time of his first one-man exhibition in Brussels in 1927, Magritte had begun to paint in the style, closely akin to surrealism, that remained dominant throughout his long career.
A meticulous, skillful technician, Magritte is noted for works that juxtapose ordinary objects in unusual contexts. Everyday objects are reproduced in exact detail but placed in incongruous settings and combinations: A huge bright-green apple pushes out at the walls of a room; men fall like raindrops over rooftops; a giant heavy boulder floats across a clouded blue sky. Magritte's work conveys a sense of mystery, uneasiness, and even fear by presenting an environment totally unlike that of everyday experience.
Early in his career Magritte introduced words into his paintings, contrasting the varying degrees of reality in the name of an object, the image of the object, and the object itself. Among his best-known works in this vein is La Trahison des Images (The Treachery of Images, 1928-1929, Los Angeles County Museum of Art). Below the painted image of a smoker's pipe appears the written declaration, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" (This is not a pipe). Magritte displayed a mordant wit in creating surrealist versions of famous paintings, such as Madame Rcamier de David (1949, private collection). In this painting an elaborate coffin is substituted for the reclining woman in the famous portrait by Jacques-Louis David.
Magritte's work was first shown in the United States in New York City in 1936. The first major retrospective exhibition of his work was presented by the Museum for Contemporary Arts in Dallas, Texas, in 1960. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City organized an important retrospective of Magritte's paintings in 1965 that traveled to several cities in the United States in 1966. The Metropolitan Museum of Art had a Magritte retrospective in 1992. Magritte's works were shown in major European exhibitions in Rotterdam in 1967, in Paris in 1979, in Brussels in 1998, and in Rome in 2001.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, art museum in New York City, one of the largest and most comprehensive art museums in the world. Founded in 1870 by a group of civic leaders, philanthropists, and artists, the museum has occupied its current location in New York's Central Park since 1880. Its collections number nearly three million objects in every known artistic medium, representing cultures from every part of the world, from ancient times to the present.
Popularly known as the Met, the museum is a private institution. Its collection is housed in a building owned and maintained by New York City. Visited by more than five million people each year, the museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. It is also a major educational institution, offering a wide array of programs for children and adults. In addition, scholars of archaeology and art history conduct advanced research projects at the museum.
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