René Magritte is one of the most famous artists of the 20th century Surrealism movement.
In the 1920s, the Belgian artist joined a group of young artists who wanted to create work that honors the subconscious and the world of dreams. Throughout these years and beyond, Magritte has identified his unique art style that critics call “Magic realism” . During his long career, he created pictures that blurred the lines between reality and fantasy and invited viewers to question what they thought they understood.
Here are 5 paintings by René Magritte that bring insight into the artist’s mind.
01. THE TREACHERY OF IMAGES, 1929
Drawn when Magritte was 30, The Treachery of Images is part of a series of pictures made up of words. This particular work shows a pipe with the French phrase, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (“This is not a pipe”). Magritte want to emphasize that the picture is not a pipe, but a picture of a pipe. The Treachery of Images is one of the most iconic works of art of the Surreal movement, as it defies the paradoxes of language and representation.
02. THE LOVERS II, 1928
This oil painting depicts a man and a woman hugging and kissing through cloth wrapped around their heads. The mysterious scene causes viewers to question why lovers cannot actually communicate or touch each other.
It is hard to speculate on an individual meaning, but the color of the picture alludes to certain themes. The blue color on the background relates to water, often representing life. Woman dressed in red, perhaps representing love or passion. The man in the painting is dressed in a black, tone-colored suit often associated with death. The veil is white or grayish in color, which may indicate purity or purity that is stained. Others interpret the work as a portrait of human isolation, and describe our inability to understand everything even with our closest companions. .
On March 12, 1912, mother of Magritte sadly died of suicide after immersing himself in the Sambre River in northern France. When she was found, Magritte13 years old was present at the scene. The dress hides her face, an image that may have had a strong effect on some of the oil paintings the artist painted of people whose faces obscured cloth, including The Lovers II.
03. THE FALSE MIRROR, 1929
The human eye is the subject that attracts many Surreal artists, as they believe it represents the bridge between themselves and the outside world. The False Mirror, painted in 1929, has a single eye that fills the whole picture. It gazes at the viewer with authentic details and textures. The iris of the eye floats in the cloudy sky, looking as if the iris is a circular window. Surrealistic photographer Man Ray – who owned the work between 1933 and 1936 – recognized The False Mirror’s duality, when he described the work as a painting “Observed as much as it is observed”.
04. GOLCONDA, 1953
In spite of Magritte living a quiet, middle-class life, but he was able to turn ordinary things into something magical. Golconda depicts a surreal suburban setting where countless almost identical men dressed in dark vests and melon hats are floating in the air like balloons. Yourself Magritte also lived in an environment and dressed similar to the subjects in the painting, so it can be easily assumed that this work is a self-portrait of himself. However, the title Golconda is made by friends Magritte and the poet Louis Scutenaire provided. Golconda is a ruined city in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, near Hyderabad. From the middle of the 14th century to the end of the 17th century, the city was the capital of two rich kingdoms and the center of the legendary diamond industry in the region. Hidden in the picture, the big man on the chimney of the house to the right of the composition is said to represent Scutenaire.
05. THE SON OF MAN, 1964
Perhaps this is the most famous work of Magritte, The Son Of Man painted in 1964 is a self-portrait. The oil painting depicts the artist himself, in his jacket and in a melon hat, standing by the short wall with a seaside view. His face is largely obscured by a floating green apple, but if you look close enough, you can see his eyes peeking out on its edges and leaves.
The painting is part of a series and is often grouped with two other works produced in the same year. The first is Magritte’s Man in the Bowler Hat, which has a similar character whose face is obscured by a bird in flight. Second is The Great War of the Facades depicting a elegantly dressed woman with blooming flowers on her face.
Talking about The Son of Man, Magritte shared, “At least it hides part of its face. Well, so you have a clear face, an apple, hide what is visible but hidden, a human face. It is something that happens continuously. Everything we see hides something else, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is a concern in which is concealed and what they display does not allow us to see. This concern can exist in the form of an intense feeling, a kind of conflict, one might say, between the hidden visible and the existing visible..
Translator: Nam Vu