René Magritte is a 20th century Belgian Artist. He was influenced by André Breton -a writer known as the founder of surrealism-for his 1924 Surrealist Manifesto, Sigmund Freud-a neurologist-for his psychoanalysis that repetition is a sign of trauma. He studied at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris between 1916 and 1918.1 After leaving because he thought that it was a complete waste of time, and upon meeting Victor Servranckx-a fellow artist who introduced Magritte to futurism, cubism and purism-Jean Metzinger and Fernand Leger had a large influence on his early works of cubism.
Magritte wanted to stay away from the distractions that came with modern painting styles; he went with a mask-like technique instead. "They want to revolutionize art," he later said of young artists, "I wanted to break free from it.”2 He would show the beauty of the picture simply, yet the underlying message would provoke unsettling thoughts. He declared that his art had no mystery, yet there was always something a little bit strange about them.3
In 1926, he signed a contract with the Galerie le Centaur until 1930, with a stronger take on surrealism after seeing a reproduction of Giorgio de Chico’s Love Song. After that, many of
his works mimicked de Chirico’s in mood and use of certain objects. Magritte would also recreate pieces by Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne, Manet as well as others, to let viewers of his work reflect on the differences between the original works of art and his recreations. For example, The Balcony by Édouard Manet, was recreated by Magritte; Magritte replaced the people by coffins.4
His works typically included men in bowler hats, green apples, the sky, as well as other objects he changes or recreates in his pieces...
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... towards the figures, can explain how Magritte felt at the time of his mother’s body recovery. Perhaps he thought of water as something pure in its own but then it gets to a dark place for him when he dealt with his trauma. The red can be representative of his anger, towards his mother for abandoning him, for finally succeeding after her attempts, for having been there when her body was recovered and having seen her face covered and her torso bare.
The man in black can be representative of death itself, for it is more dominant than the female figure and slightly pushing her to lean back while tilting her face upwards. The covered faces could be a representation of how his mother’s face was found while also relaying a sense of distance between mother and son, shown by how the two figures attempting to embrace will never actually meet because the veils prevent them.
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