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Rene Magritte: Illusions Masking Reality Essay

1676 words - 7 pages

In the fallout of the first Great War, which had plagued European society for four long and brutal years, many were left to question the purpose of their existences. Stemming from the monstrously large number of casualties during the war, the mood left those whom survived to wonder how reason and logic could have started the conflict. For many people, a sense of alienation was stirred up who found the possibility of rejoining a society, which had not only allowed but prolonged such a catastrophe, to difficult. As society was adapting from war, so too were the artists and their respective movements. One such movement formed during the tumultuous years was reacting to the heighten fears of war called Dada. It is from the Dadaist movement in central Europe where we see a large influence on the future Surrealist movement. In Dada, we find surrealists’ motivation and interest in the ideas of chance and the irrational. Dadaist attempted to challenge the traditional aesthetics. In surrealism’s basic definition do we recognize the Dadaist influence of the anti-aesthetic, where shocks with juxtapositions of ordinary objects in unnatural circumstances were stressed. Among the many tenants of surrealism, the work of Sigmund Freud during the early half of the twentieth century on the unconscious became one of the major themes of the movement. No better example to serve this definition of surrealism, other than Salvador Dali, than the work of Rene Magritte.
Rene Magritte was born November 21, 1898 in Lessines, Brussels. Tragedy struck Rene early in his life his mother had attempted to commit suicide several times forcing his father to lock her in a room until one day she went missing. Few days past until the family found her drowned in the Sambre River close to where his family lived. It has been purported that the death of his mother influenced his early works. In which he painted a white veil into his work, symbolic, perhaps, of the garment his mother was found in. While a teenager he was enrolled in Académie des Beaux-Arts in Brussels until he found work drawing advertisements for a wallpaper factory. By 1927 he moved to the epicenter of fine arts in Paris. There he was acquainted with the emerging movement of surrealism led by the writer, Andre Breton. After three years he returned to Brussels where he would remain until his death in 1967. According to some, Magritte lived a quiet, humble life never wishing to attract large amounts attention towards himself he tended to live unremarkably.
In the developing stage of surrealism, two diametric schools of thought were beginning to form. The first, based heavily in a literary style called automatism, which held the ideas of creation free from the control of the mind. In this direction, abstraction of ordinary objects and the ideas of chance dominated. Among those whom clung to this style were Max Ernst and Andre Masson. This style thus became known as abstract surrealism. Oppositely, artists such as...

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