“The Secret of Things” in the paintings of Rene Magritte, who wanted to “make everyday life less dreary”
“To make everyday life less dreary” – this was the task set by the Belgian artist Rene Magritte. His paintings do not just attract attention – they can inspire alarm, puzzle, bewitch, even frighten.
Rene Magritte was born in the small Belgian town of Lessin in 1898. Soon the family moved to Charleroi. The artist’s childhood was not easy, and everything else was marred by tragedy: when Renee was 14, his mother committed suicide.
Magritte studied for two years at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, after which he began to work in the field of advertising. The search for Magritte’s own path in art took place under the clear influence of the surrealists. The artist’s style – “magical realism”, as he himself later called it – developed after 1926.
While studying at the Academy, Magritte met his future wife, Georgette, with whom he lived until his death in 1967. The couple did not have children, most of the artist’s life was spent in Brussels, in an apartment where he spent almost all his time at work.
Magritte, unlike his colleagues in the workshop, was not the artist who draws attention to his person with shocking and scandalous actions. The inexplicable and often unexplained paintings made and still make a greater impression.
Magritte’s Magical Realism
The artist’s favorite technique is the depiction of ordinary, everyday objects in a strange and unimaginable combination. Such an ordinary character, like a man in a bowler hat – Mr. Everyday, as Magritte himself called him – has become an extremely recognizable way. A person’s face, hidden either by an apple or by a bird, becomes part of a great philosophical rebus that permeates all of Magritte’s work.
The artist himself preferred not to give explanations to his subjects, leaving the viewer himself to find a clue. The paintings, he thought, needed to be examined, and that is why they are created.
Staring can cause strange feelings. In the picture “Empire of Light”, it would seem, nothing unusual is depicted – a peaceful night landscape, cozy light in the windows of the house. True, if you look at the sky, it turns out that it is lit by the sun, which means that the picture is both day and night. The effect of the work was so strong that the artist had to repeat the idea again and again to fulfill private orders, and currently there are 16 replicas of the picture in the world.
Magritte would have earned the title of working genius: in his life he created about 2,000 paintings, and often he had to fulfill orders and create paintings for the same plot. In addition to paintings, Magritte was fond of photography – this side of his work allowed to achieve the image of objects with special, almost documentary accuracy.
There are only two things in the picture “Hegel’s Vacations” – a glass of water and an opened umbrella. In a letter to a friend, Magritte admitted: “My last picture began with the question: how to portray a glass of water in a picture so that it is not impersonal? But at the same time, and so that he is not particularly bizarre, arbitrary or insignificant. In a word, so that you can safely say: ingenious! I began to draw glasses one after another, each time with a stroke across. After the hundredth or fiftieth drawing, the stroke became somewhat wider and finally took the form of an umbrella. At first, the umbrella was inside the glass, but then it was under it. So I found a solution to the initial question: how a glass of water can be portrayed brilliantly. ”
Surrealism develops further – and modern artists set themselves new tasks.