René Magritte (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: Magritte was the most prominent Belgian associated with the modern art movement known as Surrealism. While his concept of the art of painting increasingly diverged from Surrealist theory, the integrity and fascination of his large body of work won for him an extended and devoted audience in the latter part of his career.
René François Ghislain Magritte was born to Léopold and Régina Magritte on November 21, 1898, in Lessines, a small town in the province of Hainaut, part of the Walloon, as distinct from the Flemish region of Belgium. Magritte was the eldest of three children. His brother Raymond, born two years later, became a successful businessman, and in adulthood there was little contact between the two. In childhood, Magritte was devoted to his youngest brother, Paul, who later pursued interests in music and poetry and remained on close terms with Magritte.
In 1899, Magritte’s father, who was a wholesale merchant, moved the family to nearby Gilly, where a peculiar event became fixed in Magritte’s imagination. Though it may have been remembered more through his parents’ retelling than directly in René’s memory—he was a year old when it happened—the unexpected landing of a hot-air balloon on the roof of the family’s house became a touchstone of his childhood experience, helping to prepare the ground for his sense of poetic wonder. Another early formative...
(The entire section is 3088 words.)
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