Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy Birthday, Rene Magritte

Google's front page informs me that today marks the 110th birthday of Belgian Surrealist artist Rene Magritte. Magritte is one of my favorite artists. My partner and I dressed up as Magritte's "Son of Man" for Halloween - wearing suits, bowler hats, and apple masks. I may post pictures of that later.

In honor of this occasion, here are a few of his greatest pieces:

First of all, here's "Son of Man:"

Next, here's what is probably his most famous painting, called "The Treachery of Images:"

The caption, "This is not a pipe," is actually quite true. Magritte's point, of course, is that this is merely a picture of a pipe, an image. You can't smoke it. He followed this up with several other "this is not a" paintings in the same vein.

Next, here's "Golconde:"

From Wikipedia:

The piece depicts a scene of identical men dressed in dark overcoats and bowler hats, who seem to be floating like helium balloons (though there is no actual indication of motion), against a backdrop of buildings and blue sky. It is humorous, but with an obvious criticism of the conventional effacing of individuality.

Magritte himself lived in a similar suburban environment, and dressed in a similar fashion. The bowler hat was a common feature of much of his work, and appears in paintings like The Son of Man.

Here's Magritte's "Self Portrait:"

For more Magritte, here's a Google Image search.