René Magritte

(Belgian, 1898 - 1967)


“Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist.”

- Rene Magritte


            Surrealist artist René Magritte was born in Belgium, in 1898, the eldest son of Léopold and Régina Magritte. His childhood was turbulent; in 1912 his mother committed suicide by drowning in a river. Through painting, films, and novels he was about to find some peace from the horrific tragedy. From 1916 to 1918 he studied at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts located in Brussels, however was not satisfied with the institution. Although dissatisfied, he was exposed to new forms of art styles such as cubism and futurism that ultimately influenced his work.

            Magritte completed a year of military service in 1921, and then returned home to marry Georgette Berger who he had known since childhood and would stay with for the rest of his days. He worked at a wallpaper factory, then as a freelance poster and advertisement designer while continuing to paint. Magritte was making progress with his pieces, producing famous works such as The Lovers and The False Mirror, however still lacked financial success. He and Georgette returned to Brussels after living in Paris, and interest in his paintings began to grow over the next few years.

            In the 1930s as his popularity increased, his works were exhibited in New York City and London. The onset of World War II influenced his darker works, as the burden of violence and suffering weighed upon him. Pieces such as The Return of the Flame and The Clearing demonstrated a shift in positivity with brighter colors and more impressionistic style rather than chaotic surrealism. In the 1950s he was commissioned to paint murals, titled The Enchanted Domain, for a casino in a town on the Belgian coast. Other commissions followed around Belgium, in addition to exhibitions around Brussels and in New York.

            In 1963, Magritte was unfortunately diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, an illness that would eventually take his life. He was able to travel for several years including to New York for a retrospective in 1965 and continued to explore other media including sculpture and film that also featured his wife, Georgette. In August of 1967, the artist died at age 68. His contributions to the world have proven influential around the world, inspiring major pop artists including Andy Warhol. Countless exhibitions worldwide have featured his work. The Magritte Museum was opened in Brussels in 2009. His pieces will continue to be celebrated for years to come.

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