Rene Magritte (1898-1967)

Translated literally, the word surrealism means "over-reality." The movement began in Paris following World War I, lead by front man, Andre Breton. As an art movement, Surrealism was concerned with achieving a heightened sense of reality through the painted image. The painters associated with the Surrealist movement, however, did not necessarily agree as to how art was to achieve this end. Magritte's association with the formal movement was tenuous at best. In notes at the Gladstone hotel in New York in 1965, Magritte defined the meaning of Surrealism: The term surrealism gives rise to confusion, and the term Realism is not suitable for the direct apprehension of reality. Surrealism is the direct knowledge of reality: reality is absolute, and unrelated to the various ways of interpreting it.

Magritte believed that a viewer could be released from the banality of her perceived reality by viewing that reality in a disrupted context. Magritte painted in a realistic style with crisp lines and sharp edges. He presents objects taken from everyday life, but he positions those objects in a way that subverts the rational order. His compositions are jarring for their juxtaposition of common objects, often skewed in scale, and placed in incongruous settings. Magritte is deeply interested in the process of thought, and his paintings tend to raise the awareness of the viewer to her own thought process as she views an offered reality that has been reconfigured to reveal its underlying fantastic component.

SOURCE: Microsoft Encarta "Rene Marritte" 1997

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