Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rene Magritte

Rene Magritte was a Surrealist painter who was born in Belgium in 1898. He wanted people to look at ordinary things in different ways. He sometimes painted objects in places were they didn’t usually belong, like in Time Transfixed in which a train is coming out of a fireplace. Other times, Magritte confused the foreground (the things at the front of the painting) with the background, like in Blank Signature, The Large Family, and The Seducer.

Magritte did not enjoy school, and he knew he wanted to paint, so he went to the Academie dex Beaux-Arts in Brussels to study art. During this time, he worked to find his own style. He tried cubism and futurism (which I have not yet posted about) but neither would become his style. Instead, he painted in the Surrealist style.

He got married in 1922 and designed wallpaper and posters in order to make enough money to live.

Magritte was not a huge success right away. In 1927 he had a one-man show that did very poorly. Critics did not like his artwork.

He moved to Paris to work with other Surrealists. After three years in Paris he disliked the other Surrealists so much that he moved back to Brussels and burned everything that reminded him the Surrealists. He continued to paint in the Surrealist style and as the Surrealists became more popular, so did Magritte.

He experimented with other styles during his life, including Impressionism and a style he called Vache which poked fun of Fauvism. Magritte, still unhappy about the time he spent in Paris, disliked the French and wanted to annoy them by making fun of their art. He returned to Surrealism at the end of his life.

Magritte died in 1967.

Magritte is well-known for including men in bowler hats in his paintings. He often wore a bowler hat himself and, though you usually can’t see the men’s faces, these paintings are commonly thought of as self-portraits.

I especially like Magritte’s paintings of paintings, like this one and this one.

I should also mention that he created several paintings that included a picture of an object and a sentence that the object wasn't what it seemed to be. For example, he painted a picture of a pipe and the words “Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” which means “This is not a pipe.” He wanted to point out that the names we give things are completely random. Why is a pipe called a pipe? Couldn’t it just as easily have been called a snoolo or a dorbling?

Tomorrow I’ll show you how to make your own Magritte-inspired masterpiece. (I promise. It’s already ready to go.)

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_________________
My Current NaNoWriMo Word Count:

36631 / 50000 words. 73% done!
Tuesday’s NaNoWriMo Word Count:

33784 / 50000 words. 68% done!
Monday’s NaNoWriMo Word Count:

32867 / 50000 words. 66% done!

7 comments:

Ms. Julie's Place said...

Good to hear! I was missing the art projects. Thanks for posting about Magritte. I have always liked him.

lilian said...

highly recommend to see a film about rene magritte.
Biography, art, history, life and much more:
watch here

Jessica said...

My computer won't play it! Thanks for the link, though. I'll keep trying.

Duncan Grant said...

Sadly, I think you've completely misunderstood what Magritte meant by "ceci n'est pas une pipe". The clue is in the title, "The Treachery of Images" and the point he is making is nothing to do with names; it's about the fact that a painting is not a pipe, it's a representation of a pipe. In fact, he is quoted as saying as much

"The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it's just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture 'This is a pipe,' I'd have been lying!"

Duncan Grant said...

Sadly, I think you've completely misunderstood what Magritte meant by "ceci n'est pas une pipe". The clue is in the title, "The Treachery of Images" and the point he is making is nothing to do with names; it's about the fact that a painting is not a pipe, it's a representation of a pipe. In fact, he is quoted as saying as much

"The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it's just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture 'This is a pipe,' I'd have been lying!"

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