René Magritte was a Belgian surrealist artist. He became known for creating thought-provoking images by depicting ordinary objects in an unordinary setting. His work often challenges preconceptions of reality people may have. René Magritte was born in Lessines, in the province of Hainaut, Belgium, in 1898. He was the oldest son of Léopold Magritte, a tailor and textile merchant, and Régina, who was a milliner before she got married (renemagritte.org).
René Magritte's mother committed suicide by drowning herself when Magritte was 13 years old. René Magritte was present when his mother's body was fished from the water, and saw his mother's nightgown wrapped around her face (MoMA Learning). 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.”
This painting is called The Lovers, which was created by Magritte in 1928. Two lovers seem to be kissing each other with their face covered, transforming an act of passion into one of isolation and frustration. Some has interpreted this work as a depiction of the inability to fully unveil the nature of even our most intimate companions.
This painting is called The Pilgrim, which was created by Magritte in 1966. The image is beautiful in its simplicity and clarity, with a surrealist twist. Although Magritte has announced that his painting hide no mystery, it is simply a thought-provoking piece.
Magritte painted The Son of Man as a self-portrait in 1946. The painting consists of a man in an overcoat and a bowler hat standing in front of a short wall, beyond which is the sea and a cloudy sky. The man's face is largely obscured by a hovering green apple. However, the man's eyes can be seen peeking over the edge of the apple. Another subtle feature is that the man's left arm appears to bend backwards at the elbow.
I first came upon René Magritte's work from a book called Revolution of the Eye at Lilly Library at Duke University. I was attracted by the beauty of Magritte's work, as well as the meaning behind it. I feel like René Magritte's work is more than what appears on the paper, and the meaning behind those work vary in different eyes. That's exactly the reason why I like his work.
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