5 facts about Magritte

Valentine Legrand
Publié le 22 March 2023
5 facts about Magritte

Today, Museum TV invites you to delve into the world of a famous surrealist painter. Discover 5 facts about Magritte.

1) A difficult childhood and school dropout

Born into an unstable family, Magritte grew up with his mother and two brothers, Raymond and Paul.

When he was 13, his mother committed suicide by drowning in the river Sambre. He dropped out of school at 15 and frequented prostitutes, but in response to an inner questioning, he enrolled a few years later at the Beaux-Arts in Brussels.

His mother's suicide is a real trauma for Magritte. But he did not tell his wife Georgette about it until years after their marriage.

For some, his painting The Lovers is the image of his mother, whose face was found covered by her nightdress. However, Magritte always hated the psychoanalysis of his works and according to him, art is sufficient in itself.

2) He was passionate about philosophy

While he totally refuted psychoanalysis and the ideas of Freud, which emerged in the 1920s, Magritte was greatly fascinated by philosophy.

For example, he discussed his work The Treachery of Images, "This is not a pipe" with Michel Foucault in 1929.

In each of the Magritte's works, a philosophical dimension is hidden. Indeed, Magritte questions the world around him and everyday objects: his painting is a constant existential search.

In the 1950s, he exchanged letters with Alphonse de Wealhens and Chaïm Perelman, philosophers who taught rhetoric and logic.

3) He liked to provoke

Magritte is known for his complex personality, full of humour but above all full of provocation...

Indeed, after coming into contact with the French surrealists, whom he considered 'snobbish', he accentuated his Belgian side by rolling his r's. The aim? To annoy Breton, who did not like his Walloon accent.

But he went much further when, in 1948, he developed a deliberately coarse style and painted grotesque figures for his first solo exhibition in Paris, the aim being to challenge the Parisian world.

4) He liked to represent mystery

Magritte liked to represent mystery in his works. Thus, all his paintings are mathematical formulas and become the solution to a problem.

"My paintings evoke mystery, and in fact when someone sees one of my paintings, they ask 'What does it mean? It doesn't mean anything, because mystery doesn't mean anything, it's unknowable"

The solution to these formulas is characterised by the repetition of the same objects such as curtains, windows, pipes, bowler hats, apples, the sky...

5) He gave the same name to all his dogs

Magritte gave each of his dogs the same name: Loulou. According to several people close to him, Magritte loved his dogs.

To find out more facts about Magritte and the genius he was, go to our streaming platform to discover our documentary on the world's greatest painters dedicated to him.