Rene Magritte (after) Le Fils de l'Homme
Artist: Rene Magritte (after)
Title: Le Fils de l'Homme
Medium: Lithograph on Arches wove paper
Sheet Size: 35 3/8" x 26 1/8"
Signature: Hand signed and inscribed in pencil by Georgette Magritte, wife of the artist
Rene Francois Ghislain Magritte was born on November 21st, 1898 in the town of Lessines, Belgium. He showed an early proclivity for the arts and began taking drawing lessons in 1910. His mother's suicide by drowning when Magritte was thirteen had a profound effect on the young artist; according to legend, she was found with her dress obscuring her face, a visual effect that may have informed Magritte's use of a similar motif in many of his later works of art, most notably in the painting Les Amants. Magritte studied at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels from 1916 to 1918. His early paintings were influenced by Impressionism and later by Futurism and Cubism. He served in the Belgian infantry until 1921, after which he worked as a draughtsman in a wallpaper factory and as an advertisement designer until 1926. At that time, a contract with Galerie le Centaure in Brussels enabled Magritte to pursue painting as a full-time occupation. He produced his first surreal painting, The Lost Jockey, that same year, and held his first exhibition in Brussels in 1927. Critical response to the show was scathing. Depressed, Magritte moved to Paris, where he became friends with André Breton and became involved in the surrealist group operating there. Galerie la Centaure closed at the end of 1929, thereby ending Magritte's contract income. Having made little impact in Paris, Magritte returned to Brussels in 1930 and resumed working in advertising. He was supported during this period by a Surrealist patron, Edward James, who allowed Magritte to stay and paint in his London home, and whom Magritte would feature in two of his paintings, Le Principe du Plaisir (The Pleasure Principle) and La Reproduction Interdite. Magritte was in Brussels throughout the German occupation of Belgium. He briefly adopted a colorful, painterly style between 1943 and 1944, an interlude known as his "Renoir Period," to express his feelings of alienation and abandonment that came with living under occupation. In 1946, renouncing the violence and pessimism of his earlier work, he joined several other Belgian artists in signing the manifesto Surrealism in Full Sunlight. Throughout the lean postwar years, Magritte and his brother Paul were forced to support themselves through the fraudulent production of forged paintings and banknotes. At the end of 1948, he returned to the style and themes of his prewar surrealistic art. Magritte's work frequently displays a collection of ordinary objects in an unusual context, giving new meanings to familiar things. He also produced surrealist versions of well-known paintings by other artists. Magritte's style of surrealism is more representational than the "automatic" style of artists such as Joan Miró his use of ordinary objects in unfamiliar spaces is joined to his desire to create poetic imagery. He described the act of painting as "the art of putting colors side by side in such a way that their real aspect is effaced, so that familiar objects—the sky, people, trees, mountains, furniture, the stars, solid structures, graffiti—become united in a single poetically disciplined image. The poetry of this image dispenses with any symbolic significance, old or new." Popular interest in Magritte's work rose considerably in the 1960s, and his imagery went on to influence pop, minimalist and conceptual art. His work was exhibited in New York in 1936, and then again in two retrospective exhibitions, at the Museum of Modern Art in 1965 and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1992. Magritte died of pancreatic cancer on August 15th, 1967, at the age of 68, and was interred in Schaerbeek Cemetery in Evere, Brussels.