René Magritte

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L’Empire de la Réflexion
Circa 1942
Oil on canvas
Object: 19 3/4 x 28 3/4 in.
Signed Magritte upper right; signed Magritte and titled on the reverse

Biography

René Magritte (1898-1967)

René Magritte was born on 21 November 1898 in Lessines, Belgium. After losing his mother to suicide at age 14, he attends the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Brussels from 1916 to 1918. While working in advertisement and as a designer for wallpapers to make a living, Magritte’s early paintings experiment with Impressionism, Cubism and Futurism.

Seeing Giorgio de Chirico’s work for the first time in 1922, he is impressed by the bizarre grouping of objects in his paintings. Magritte moves to Paris in 1927, and getting in touch with André Breton, Max Ernst, Francis Picabia, and Marcel Duchamp, he starts playing an active role in the Surrealist movement. He returns to Brussels in 1930, where he lives and works for the rest of his life.

Magritte’s paintings – many of them now icons of Modern art – are characterised by the illogical arrangement of objects and people, executed in a naturalistic, almost photographic painting style. Constantly blurring the boundaries between truth and fiction, some of his art can be violent or disturbing, always causing a sense of mystery and uneasiness in the viewer.

René Magritte is considered the most important Belgian painter of the 20th century.

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