Introduction: Introducing surrealism and two painters, Picasso and Magritte
- Picasso as a surrealist painter
- Magritte as a surrealist painter
- How Magritte differed from Picasso
Conclusion: Ending comments on differences between Picasso and Magritte
Surrealism: Picasso and Magritte
Surrealism was the cultural movement and mode of thought best known for the art and literature that came out of it. The works produced all have characteristic unexpected juxtapositions that followed the surrealist philosophy. According to the Surrealist Manifesto written in 1924, Surrealism is defined as the "Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation." In Greek mythology, the Minotaur was a creature that was half bull and half man. Centuries later it would become the symbol of the surrealist art period, influencing the works of great artists such as Picasso and Magritte, both of whom painted masterpieces of the surrealist period but with very different intentions for how their art should be interpreted.
Pablo Picasso is best known for starting the Cubist movement in the early 1900's. Picasso's artistic works are often categorized into periods with his Blue Period lasting from 1901-1904 and his cubist movement starting in 1909. During this period Picasso came into contact with the surrealist and became influenced by their ideology. His famous painting is his depiction of the Nazi German bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War, thus called Guernica. The large painting embodies the sentiments felt by many during the war with the twist of not explicitly showing blood, weapons, and violence in the way a realist painter would. Picasso intentionally painted it in black and white, replicating the many photos of the war that were published in newspapers at that time. However, Picasso does not mean for the painting to convey a message through symbolism or philosophy. He means his painting to be just as it is, with any thought, idea or symbolism added only by the viewer.
The Belgian surrealist painter, Rene Magritte, is known for his witty and amusing images, many of them philosophical and symbolic. Magritte worked in a wallpaper factory, and also designed posters and advertisements until 1926 when he was offered an art contract that made it possible for him to paint full-time. This is when he produced his first surrealist painting. Magritte's paintings showcase his philosophical wit and his talent in being able to paint really helps to drive his philosophical ideas home. His work frequently juxtaposes ordinary objects in contradictory context, creating new meaning.
Magritte is most famous for his paintings The Son of Man and On the Threshold of Liberty. However, his painting The Treachery of Images best reflects his philosophical ideas and the surrealist manifesto. The painting shows a typical pipe with the words "This is not a pipe" painted beneath. This initially seems at odds but upon inspection, this is true because it is a painting of a pipe, and not really a pipe, just as Magritte points out in the title. Unlike Picasso, Magritte intends for his paintings to have symbolism and meaning. Through his art, Magritte points out that realism can only come so close to depicting an item accurately be-cause the item still remains in the two-dimensional space of the canvas.
In defining the surrealist movement and interpreting into their art, both Picasso and Magritte-influenced peoples around the world in their time and still today. Through their art, they both were able to place logic aside and create art that transcended conventional reason, just as the Surrealist Manifesto outlined. Their artwork provoked emotion, conversation and a new way of thinking. They redefined art as being more than just beauty and aesthetic-art was a medium that could be used to provoke and move people, using everyday items and giving them new meaning, taking heart-wrenching events and using them to heal.
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Meuris, J. (2007). Magritte. Koln: Taschen.