Rene Magritte Surrealism Painter – Paris Years Paintings
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A Belgian surrealist painter, Rene Magritte’s witty and thought-provoking paintings sought to have viewers question their perceptions of reality, and become hypersensitive to the world around them. Magritte’s mother was a suicidal woman, which led her husband, Magritte’s father, to lock her up in her room. One day, she escaped, and was found down a nearby river dead, having drowned herself. According to legend, 13 year old Magritte was there when they retrieved the body from the river. As she was pulled from the water, her dress covered her face. This later became a theme in many of Magritte’s paintings in the 1920’s, portraying people with cloth covering their faces.

From 1926 to 1930 Rene Magritte was very productive, sometimes painting three canvases a week. He had just become under contract with Paul-Gustave Van Hecke who controlled “the majority of his output” in exchange for a monthly stipend. Not only did he start producing surrealist paintings and developing his mature style but he experimented with painting words on canvases. By the time he’d moved to Paris in 1927 Magritte painted a crude image of a pipe and labeled the painting La Pipe. The same year, 1927, Magritte published an essay entitled “Les Mots et Les Image” in which he points out by means of little sketches a number of relations between words and paintings. As a result, in his 1927 painting The Interpretation of Dreams Magritte began placing words in his paintings. This marks a period of about four years where he would produce over 40 paintings that used written words to provoke thought about the meaning of images and words.

Through creating common images and placing them in extreme contexts, Magritte sough to have his viewers question the ability of art to truly represent an object. In his paintings, he often played with the perception of an image and the fact that the painting of the image could never actually be the object. His artistic interpretations influenced many modern artists, including Andy Warhol, Jan Verdoodt and Jasper Johns. His art, which was especially popular during the 1960’s, has also influenced numerous songs, movies, and books.