Today is the birthday of Belgian surrealist, Rene Magritte. Born on this day in 1898, the man with an amusing predilection for bowler hats would turn 114 years old if he were miraculously alive.
Los Angeles, UNITED STATES: Gallery security guard J. Dulay poses beside ‘Decalcomania’ (‘La Decalcomanie’) by Belgian surrealist artist Rene Magritte (1898-1967). AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECK/Getty Images.
Magritte began making art in 1916, creating paintings similar in style to Impressionist masters. The following year, he enrolled at Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, moving more in the direction of Futurist and Cubist artists like Jean Metzinger. It wasn’t until 1926 that Magritte produced his first Surrealist work, “The Lost Jockey,” launching his association with Andre Breton‘s circle in Paris.
The young artist threw himself full force into the manifesto-making sentiments of the Surrealists. With the exception of a brief painterly detour known as his “Renoir Period,” Magritte became known for his provocative pieces incorporating ordinary objects into unusual spaces. One of his most famous works, “The Treachery of Images,” plays on the tendency of works to deceive as it features a painting of a lone pipe with the caption, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (“This is not a pipe”).