Having a great influence on pop culture, minimalist and conceptual
art, René François Magritte was born to humble beginnings,
the eldest son of a tailor father and milliner mother. When
he was just 14 years old, his mother committed suicide by
throwing herself into the River Sambre near their Belgium
home. Magritte witnessed rescuers pulling his mother from
the river, the fabric of her dress covering her face. It is
said that the vision haunted him, and was the inspiration
behind a series of works he painted in the late 1920’s, including
his famous Les Amants.
first surreal painting, The Lost Jockey, was painted in 1926
and featured at his first exhibition in Brussels in 1927.
The exhibition was a critical failure, and the depressed Magritte
moved with his wife Georgette Berger to Paris. It was there
that he met André Breton and began his association with the
eventually returned to Brussels, and having been a poster
and advertisement designer in the early 1920’s, he formed
an advertising agency with his brother. He remained in Brussels
during the German occupation of Belgium during World War II,
and this caused a falling out with Breton and some of the
other surrealists, although Magritte continued to paint.
is best known for his juxtaposition of ordinary objects in
unusual context and for giving familiar objects new translations.
He also enjoyed painting objects, only to point out that the
objects he painted were not actually the object. For example,
both in his painting The Treachery of Images, a painting of
a pipe; and another painting depicting an apple, Magritte
indicates that the paintings are not the object he has painted.
He wanted the observer of his work to realize that no matter
how closely he captured the image of an apple, a pipe, or
any other object, the painting could not actually BE that
Magritte’s popularity grew, especially in the pop culture
arena throughout the 1960’s. His work was shown multiple times
in New York City, including a large retrospective at the Metropolitan
Museum of Art in 1965.
Magritte died from pancreatic cancer on August 15, 1967. He
is buried Schaarbeek Cemetery in his home of Brussels, Belgium.