René François Ghislain Magritte was a Belgian surrealist artist. He became well known for a number of witty and thought-provoking images. His work challenges observers’ preconditioned perceptions of reality.
Magritte was born in Lessines, in the province of Hainaut, in 1898, the eldest son of Léopold Magritte, who was a tailor and textile merchant, and Régina (née Bertinchamps), a milliner until her marriage. Little is known about Magritte’s early life. He began lessons in drawing in 1910. On 12 March 1912, his mother committed suicide by drowning herself in the River Sambre.
Magritte’s work frequently displays a collection of ordinary objects in an unusual context, giving new meanings to familiar things. The use of objects as other than what they seem is typified in his painting, The Treachery of Images (La trahison des images), which shows a pipe that looks as though it is a model for a tobacco store advertisement.
Contemporary artists have been greatly influenced by René Magritte’s stimulating examination of the fickleness of images. Some artists who have been influenced by Magritte’s works include John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Vija Celmins, Marcel Broodthaers, Jan Verdoodt, Martin Kippenberger and Storm Thorgerson. Some of the artists’ works integrate direct references and others offer contemporary viewpoints on his abstract fixations.