Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Magritte, René from Philip's Encyclopedia

Belgian painter. Influenced by Dada, Magritte's The Menaced Assassin (1926) is a landmark in the development of surrealism. He concentrated on the analysis of pictorial language, placing familiar objects in incongruous surroundings, and disturbing the link between word and image. Other works that explore paradox and ambiguity include The Key of Dreams (1930).

Summary Article: Magritte, René François Ghislain
From Chambers Biographical Dictionary


Belgian Surrealist painter

Born in Lessines, Hainault, he moved in 1913 to Charleroi after his mother committed suicide. He was educated at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts (1916-18) in Brussels. He became a wallpaper designer and commercial artist and in 1924 a leading member of the newly formed Belgian Surrealist group. He made his name with The Menaced Assassin (1926, Museum of Modern Art, New York) but after a badly received one-man show in Brussels (1927), he lived in Paris until 1930, and became associated with André Breton and others there. Apart from a brief Impressionist phase in the 1940s, Magritte remained faithful to Surrealism, using Freudian symbols and recurring motifs of dreamlike incongruity, as in Rape, in which he substitutes a torso for a face. His best-known paintings include Man with a Newspaper and The Reckless Sleeper (1928), The Red Model (1935, Pompidou Centre, Paris), The Wind and the Song (1928-29) and The Human Condition (1, 1934; 2, 1935). In 1957 he designed the mural La Fée Ignorante for the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Charleroi, and in 1961 the mural Les Barricades Mystérieuses for the Palais des Congrès, Brussels. He was acclaimed in the USA as an early innovator of the Pop Art of the 1960s.

  • Calvocoressi, Richard, Magritte (1990).
© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

Related Articles

Full text Article Magritte, René (1898 - 1967)
The Thames & Hudson Dictionary of Art and Artists

Belgian Surrealist painter. His early work ( 1920) was influenced by Futurism and Cubism . In 1925 he founded, with the...

Full text Article Magritte René (1898 - 1967)
A Biographical Dictionary of Artists, Andromeda

The Belgian Surrealist painter René Magritte was born in Lessines, Hainaut. He studied at the Académie des...

Full text Article Magritte, René François Ghislain (1898 - 1967)
The Bloomsbury Guide to Art

He was an important Surrealist , born in Lessines in Belgium. His mother drowned herself in 1912, a traumatic incident which...

See more from Credo