Rene Magritte was an enigmatic and strange man who painted surrealism paintings. Little is known about his childhood except that his mother, Regine Magritte took her own life by drowning herself in the Sambre river. Young Magritte is thought to have discovered her body floating with her night garment covering her face. There is speculation that this trauma was an influence on many of Magritte’s works. When Rene Magritte took up his brushes, he created beautiful visual riddles that delight and bewilder the viewer. His clean lines and highly detailed finishes made his brush strokes nearly invisible; his paintings look as if they came from a printing press. Magritte referred to his paintings as “his labors.” He did labor over the paintings and the questions and answers that spawned them in his imagination. His art poses questions, seeks answers, and challenges the conventional definition of ideas. He came to the surrealist style of art in the 1920’s and has produced some of the most beautiful and moving art in the world. He was a shy and introverted man who loathed the social familiarity that society imposed on its celebrities. He liked to maintain social boundaries and was rather reclusive, ironically, he routinely used people as objects and removed the boundaries of association between objects to create his visual riddles. He did not like to be recognized and that came to be one of the running themes in his works. Always the enigmatic secret agent man, Magritte is as much a riddle as his paintings.
Surrealism began as a literary movement in the 1920’s but was adopted by painters who were attracted to surrealisms’ freedom of expression. It started in France with a writer, Andre Breton, and is closely related to Dadaism and Abstract art. The works of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud in the area of psychology had a large impact on the surrealist movement. The exploration of the mind and the way our conscious mind perceives the symbols of our subconscious minds was new ground and it gave art a new voice with which to sing.
The surrealist artists believed the dream state and subconscious mind to be an untapped and very fertile creative fount of inspiration. The symbolism of dreams and the expressive images generated by the subconscious were far more thought provoking than the representational, logical images of the conscious mind. The surrealist artists were creating art out of what others thought to be garbled and unintelligible. They were in effect taking a concept created to heal and using it to create art instead. They were on to something with this. No matter what the medium or the style used, a bit of the self becomes visible and evident in the result. Art therapy is one of the modern descendants of this movement.
The movement spread and soon there were surrealist groups cropping up in the metro areas of the world. It was around this same time that Rene Magritte was shown a painting by Giorgio de Chirico and soon became member of the...