5 Famous Paintings by the Surrealist Artist Rene Magritte

Rene Magritte

Rene Magritte was born in Lessines, Hainaut, Belgium in 1898. In 1916, he arrived in Brussels and he studied for the next two years at Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts. In 1927, Magritte moved to Paris where he met André Breton, leader of the surrealist movement. His most important works belong to this period.

Rene Magritte – the most important representative of Belgian Surrealism

Surrealism is a literary and cultural international movement which began in the first decades of the 20th century. It is considered the extreme form of modernism. André Breton  in Surrealist Manifestos defined Surrealism as

“a pure state of mind that allows someone to express thoughts freely and without the encumbrance of rational thought and societal rules.” 

Rene Magritte in his paintings evokes an enigmatic and fascinating world. He said in an interview: “For me, art is the means of evoking mystery.” So, he painted ordinary objects such as an apple, a pipe, a bird, a window, a hat but put them in unusual contexts. His paintings are provocative, they force the viewer to ask questions and seek to decipher the mystery in each painting. Magritte said in a radio interview (1965):

“Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us.”

From the works of the great Belgian artist I selected 5 paintings: The Lovers 1928, The Treachery of Images 1928-1929, The Listening Room 1958, Golconda 1953 and The Pleasure Principle 1937.

1. The Lovers 1928

Rene Magritte
The Lovers

Analyzing The Lovers, we notice the contradiction between the hug of the two lovers and the canvas that separates their faces, their lips never meet. And we wonder: Why do the man and woman in The Lovers have their heads covered? Maybe the fact that love relationships are rarely conflict-free. Or that in despite the love displayed by the two, they are actually alone, estranged.

2. The Treachery of Images (This is Not a Pipe) 1928-1929

Rene Magritte
The Treachery of Images (This is Not a Pipe)

In this painting Magritte incorporated the wordsThis is not a pipe.” The text surprises the viewer because he recognized the object in the image: a pipe. The surrealist painter draws our attention to the difference between the real object, its image and the word with which we identify that object. Magritte explained that no matter how closely he captured the image of a pipe: “Yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it’s just a representation. So if I had written “This is a pipe” below the picture, I would have been lying”

3.The Listening Room 1952

Rene Magritte
The Listening Room

The painting shows a green apple lying directly on the floor. Surprisingly, the apple is huge and it occupies the entire room. Here, Margritte used a technique found in other works of the artist: the metamorphic transformation of objects.

4. Golconda 1953

Rene Magritte
Golconda 1953

Golconda is another surreal painting depicting men falling over the city like raindrops. It is afternoon, the sky is light blue and cloudless. The men look identical, wearing the same clothes: black coats, black hats, black pants, white shirts, briefcases and black shoes. They could be officials returning home after a day’s work. How they do the same thing every day, they came to resemble each other. But what did Magritte mean?

5. The Pleasure Principle 1937

The Pleasure Principle
The Pleasure Principle

Magritte’s The Pleasure Principle is a portrait of Edward James. Surprisingly, the human head is replaced by a strong light. The mysterious image reveals the personality of the painted person that illuminates everything around him with the power of the mind.

I hope you like these 5 Famous Paintings by the Surrealist Artist Rene Magritte. If you’re interested in finding other articles on our site about art, here it is: 10 classic painting posts you can find on tumblr.



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