Kickin’ It Old School: The Classic Surrealism of René Magritte

For the most part, my Thursday Art posts have featured artists who represent a new brand of “pop surrealists.” Modern day artists like Michael Sowa, Hsiao-Ron Cheng, Paul Barnes and Hillary White all adhere closely to the basic tenants of surrealism while bringing their own unique perspectives and influences to the table. But to see how these artists got to where they are, sometimes we need to revisit the past, and where better than with the work of legendary surrealist artist René Magritte.

Born in Belgium in 1898, Magritte kicked around the French art world, influenced by Impressionist, Cubist and Futurism styles, before returning to Belgium in 1930. It was following this period that he created his best known works while becoming one of the most influential of the surrealists. Rene Magritte died in 1967 at the age of 68.

Magritte’s calling card as a surrealist was his ability to cause viewers to question what they were seeing. He’s a master at playing with pre-existing perceptions of reality, and of giving new meaning to familiar things by placing them in unusual contexts. He often played with the perception of an image and the fact that the painting of the image could never actually be the object. Magritte points out that no matter how naturalistically we depict an object, we never do catch the essence of the item itself. That may look like an apple, but it’s not an apple.

Even people who are not familiar with his art are probably aware of Magritte’s more classic paintings, particularly “The Son Of Man’ (above) and “Golconde.” Fans of The Beatles will also no doubt recognize the iconic green apple of “The Listening Room.” His work continues to influence today’s pop culture.

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get reacquainted with the timeless art of René Magritte.

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About Stephen Kelly Creative

Hi, I'm Stephen Kelly, a writer, editor, photographer and graphic designer living in beautiful San Francisco, CA, USA. Amongst the things I love are writing, photography, movies, music, fitness, travel, Batman, all things Australian, food and fun, all of which I hope to reflect in this here blog. Welcome aboard ... now let's get busy!
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18 Responses to Kickin’ It Old School: The Classic Surrealism of René Magritte

  1. Nice post, Stephen. I especially like the Pleasure Principle.

  2. Hi, Stephen. They’re all strange and wonderful, some oddly threatening, but my favorite is the beautiful one called “Meditation.” It reminds me of Milton’s poem “Penseroso.” It shows the perfect midnight scene of thought by candlelight, the traditional, antique, even beautifully melancholy scene, in the sense of melancholy dictated not by sadness, but by aloneness without loneliness.

  3. petit4chocolatier says:

    I love his art and have loved The Son of Man forever! One of my other faves is Golconde!
    Thank you for sharing!! Definitely reblogging this link on the reblog page; love it!

  4. Awwwww clasic! Beautiful! 🙂

  5. viveka says:

    Thanks for bringing …. Rene Magritte to us. His ” The Son of Man” has been my favorite for quite a few years. Not a lover of modern art … I love the old school where they have every little detail down to the teeth, but I enjoy Magritte. Have a great weekend.

  6. Paula says:

    A very thorough article as usual Stephen 🙂 I have only seen the Son of Man before 🙂 but now I have seen more 🙂 Thank you!

  7. God DAMN I love Magritte. I have a hard time walking away from any of his stuff, and I had the privilege of seeing “The Empire of LIght” for real, live and in the flesh, if you will. Amazing. It was hard for me to move away. It’s always hard for me to move away. If you want more surrealists you should check out Yves Tanguy, whose distribution of space always blows me away. http://www.matta-art.com/tanguy/tanguy.htm

  8. ilargia64 says:

    Magritte and Dali are great!

  9. Madhu says:

    A brilliant artist wasn’t he? Thank you for showcasing so much of his work

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