1898-1967 Belgian painter. Among the 20th Century Painters

In 1922 he began his career as a graphic artist, drawing motifs for wallpaper.

Influenced by Futurism and Cubism. He was very much influenced by Giorgio de Chirico at the beginning of his career, (1925). He launched Surrealism in Belgium. His style included literal, photorealistic images having illusionistic elements portraying poetic ideas. His own brand of surrealism was labeled magic realism.

Recurring images in his paintings include:

  • the man with the bowler hat, sometimes thought to represent the artist, sometimes to represent the bourgeous- sometimes individuals, other times in groups
  • fire
  • birds
  • large rocks

Some of his paintings:

Artists associated with Magritte:

His work is in the permanent collections of many museums around the world, including:


Sources: http://www.magritte.com/3.cfm Rubin, William S., "Dada, Surrealism, and Their Heritage", Museum of Modern Art, NY, 1968. Last Updated 12.30.03

It is possible that Magritte's bizarre style of painting can be linked to his mother's death, which happened early in his childhood. In fact, it can be seen in his art in a painting called The Lovers. In it, there is a bag over two embracing lovers' heads, which is similar to the scene he witnessed when his mother died. Also, his Surrealist edge can be traced to when he viewed a Giorgio de Chirico painting and wept at its genius. Magritte was very well known for his juxtaposition techniques. He would take two images that made no sense together and place them in the painting side by side. The objects in the paintings were rendered realistically, using foreshortening and chiaroscuro. Magritte often had "word paintings", where he would show a picture of an object, followed by a word that really was never associated with that object. Magritte believed that words really had no meanings, other than the fact that we attach meanings to them arbitrarily.

Also often appearing in Magritte's works are roses. The reason being that to make money before he could support himself with his art, he was a wallpaper painter and would endlessly paint roses every day.

Another typical theme which exemplifies his juxtapositions is the day/night combination. Magritte would paint a house which was completely covered in darkness except for the lights which were turned on -- it was night. However, the sky would be bright blue -- it was day. The two are some how blended flawlessly, and I have to admit I didn't realize that there was anything wrong with the painting for quite some time. Pretty amazing.

As for the story of his mother, one night while the rest of the house slept, she got up, walked to a nearby bridge (still in her night gown), and jumped in. When her body was finally recovered, washed up on the shore, her night gown was wrapped around her head - almost exactly like the two kissing in The Lovers.

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