Rene Magritte (1898-1967)
Magritte was a Belgian surrealist artist. The surrealist art movement was a reaction to the first World War. Psychologically, Europe was in turmoil. The first world war was so massive and so devastating that the art world responded by creating artwork grounded in escapism.
Why create artwork that makes any rational sense when the entire world doesn't make any sense?
Magritte became well known for a number of witty and thought-provoking images at this time. Often depicting ordinary objects in an unusual context, his work is known for challenging observers' preconditioned perceptions of reality. He does this most directly in his work, "The Treachery of Images". He paints a realistic looking pipe and writes underneath "This is not a pipe". A painting can never be the actual object it is depicting no matter how convincing and skilled the artist is.
Magritte's work frequently displays a collection of ordinary objects in an unusual context, giving new meanings to familiar things. They often have an uncanny feel, which means familiar but strange in an unsettling way.
In order to achieve this feeling and look in his work, Magritte plays the artistic elements of scale, juxtaposition and humor.
Assignment # 1:
- Who was Rene Magritte?
- What was the surreal art movement a reaction to?
- Why did surreal artists make artwork that looked "crazy"?
- What 3 main artistic elements does Magritte play with in his artwork?
- What does it mean when something is "uncanny"?
- What is juxtaposition?
- Magritte takes ordinary objects and people and puts them into unusual circumstances. How does that create meaning in his artwork?
Assignment # 2:
You are to create an uncanny collage influenced by Magritte. It must have the following:
Assignment # 3: Reflection Questions