Self portrait as the sorcerer - 1952

René Margritte was born in the Belgian town called Lessen on the 21st of  November 1898. He grew up in a family with 3 sons. His father Léopold was a merchant unfaithful to his wife. His mother did many failed suicide attempts. In 1912 his mother was found dead in the river Samber at Châtelet with a nightgown wrapped around her head. This had great impact on his life and also in his artworks where the nightgown wrapped around heads was displayed often "Les Amants".

Les Amants - 1928

He studied from 1916 until 1918 at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. He was being teached by Georgette Berger (became his muse and wife), Emile Vandamme-Sylva en Constant Montald. His work from 1918 until 1924 was influenced by futurism and cubism. Besides his paintings he was designing realistic styled posters for a wallpaper factory. But he could also make a living as a painter.

Le Jockey perdu - 1926

He soon found out that futurism and cubism had nothing to offer for him. And so in 1924 he got to know the work of Giorgio de Chirico and started to create his own surrealistic art. His first surrealistic painting was "The Lost Jockey (Le jockey perdu)". He also played with language in the titles of his works or texts in his works. The best example is "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" which means this is no (smoking) pipe. He wanted to express that it's not a pipe but a painting displaying a pipe. 

Ceci nést pas une pipe - 1928/1929

Then in 1929 René and his wife Georgette moved to Paris. He met André Breton, Max Ernst en Marcel Duchamp also stayed with his wife in Spain by Salvador Dali. He didn't get along well with André Breton and had a fight during a surrealistic meeting because André demanded that Georgette took of here roman cross necklace. Based on this event they moved back to Brussels in 1930.

The Son of the Man - 1964

Since the mid twenties René used some specific themes in his art like the man with the bowler hat. He was famous in those days but couldn't live anymore from selling his artworks. He decided to start a design studio together with his brother named Studio Dongo. They created posters and adverts.

The Station and L'Écuyère - 1922

He also made forged paintings from works of Gustave Courbet, Meindert Hobbema, Titiaan, Giorgio de Chirico, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. And with his brother he also made false 100 franc banknotes. René always denied he did this.

The Clearing - 1944
Le retour flamme - 1943

Between 1940 and 1946 he painted in an impressionistic style upon recommendation by his merchant but still with surrealistic themes. This period was his so-called Renoir period. But after this period he moved back to his own surrealism and had a breakthrough in the United States. Therefore nowadays MOMA, Guggenheim Museum, Dallas Museum of Modern Art and the Minneapolis Institute of Art own artworks from him.

The Empire of Light - 1953-1954

Promo for the movie "The Excorcist" - 1973 (not by Margritte)
Around 1953/1954 René painted dark paintings with a small amount of light. These paintings influenced the movie industry in the 70's for the horror movie "The Excorcist" to use this effect also especially on the well know promo poster for the movie. 

Also the sympho band Styx was inspired by him for the album cover of the album "The Grand illusion" from 1977.
Le Blanc-Seing - 1965

The Styx album "The Grand Illusion" from 1973 (not by Margritte)

Cannon - 1937

René died of pancreatic cancer on the 15th of August 1967 in Schaarbeek. In Brussels the Muséé Margritte museum nowadays includes more than 200 of his paintings.

Surrealism explained by Tate Kids