Rene Magritte

Biography

Rene Magritte was born on November 21, 1898 in Belgium. Rene was the oldest son of -his father, Leopold, and mother, Regina. Very little is known about Rene's early life. In 1910, he began taking lessons in drawing. In March of 1912, Rene's mother committed suicide and was found a mile or so down a river. There is a legend that 13 year old Rene was present when her body was found. However, recent research has discredited this story. When his mother's body was found, it is said that her dress was covering her face. This is an image that has been suggested as the source of several of Rene's paintings in 1927-1928.

Rene's earliest paintings were impressionistic in style (1915). From 1918-1924, Rene's paintings were influenced by Futurism and by the figurative cubism of Metzinger. Later in life, around 1927, Rene took his talents to Paris and became involved in the surrealist group. "The illusionistic, dream-like quality is characteristic of Magritte's version of surrealism." After 3 short years, Rene left Paris and moved back home. To support himself, he was a commercial artist. He created book designs and advertisements. In 1943-1944 he briefly adopted a colorful, painterly style. He is known for is idiosyncratic surreal paintings. Rene died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 68 on August 15, 1967.

Magritte's Work

The son of Man, 1964
Oil on Canvas

The Son of Man is a Belgian surrealist painting. It was painted in 1964 by Rene Magritte. The painting was originally intended to be a self-portrait. The painting conveys a man in an overcoat wearing a bowler hat and standing in front of a short wall. Behind this short wall are a cloudy sky and the sea. You cannot see the face of the man, since it is largely obscured by a floating green apple. However, you can see the eyes of the man as they are peeking over the edge of the apple. If you are keen enough when looking at the painting, you will notice that the left arm seems to be bending backwards at the elbow.

The False Mirror, 1928
Oil on Canvas

Like many works by Rene Magritte, The False Mirror defies normal insights of the viewer. It was completed in 1928. It is one of many pieces that were created in between World War I and World War II as artists attempted to come to terms with the horrible conditions that these conflicts caused. Many of Mr. Magritte's counterparts such as Max Ernst, Man Ray and Salvidor Dali created similar renderings incorporating the human eye. It is currently shown at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

The Mysteries of the Horizon, 1955
Oil on Canvas

The Mysteries of the Horizon is one of the famous masterpieces of renowned painter, Rene Magritte. Created in 1955 in Brussels, Belgium, the surreal painting displays realistic figures in a surreal light. Known as a contemporary art genius, this art piece is still talked about today.

Golconda, 1953
Oil on Canvas

In 1953, Rene Magritte completed one of his major masterpieces, Golconda. Referring to a wealthy city in India, the name and the painting draws inspiration from the desire of wealth. The Belgian painter used his very common image of nearly identical men in long coal colored trench coats and derby hats. The surreal painting draws the viewer into a realm of uncertainty, as he depicts images of men that are unusual.

The Lovers, 1928
Oil on Canvas

Frustrated desires are a common theme in Rene Magritte’s work. Here, a barrier of fabric prevents the intimate embrace between two lovers, transforming an act of passion into one of isolation and frustration. Some have interpreted this work as a depiction of the inability to fully unveil the true nature of even our most intimate companions.

Enshrouded faces were a common motif in Magritte’s art. The artist was 14 when his mother committed suicide by drowning. He witnessed her body being fished from the water, her wet nightgown wrapped around her face. Some have speculated that this trauma inspired a series of works in which Magritte obscured his subjects' faces. Magritte disagreed with such interpretations, denying any relation between his paintings and his mother’s death. “My painting is visible images which conceal nothing,” he wrote, “they evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question, ‘What does it mean?’ It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable.”

Activities for Children

One activity you can have children do is hang and apple from the ceiling (the teacher) and have children stand behind it and show them the similarities of their picture and Magrittes' "The Son of Man" painting.

Another activity they can do while referencing "The Son of Man" is have them draw a portrait of themselves and put one of their favorite objects in the middle of their face. Just like the picture above.

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