Magritte hardly fits the temperamental artist stereotype. He lived a quiet life, finding inspiration in his everyday surroundings. This portrait takes viewers to his house in a small Belgian town and to other places that fired the artist's imagination--Brussels, Paris, the casino, the racecourse--all familiar scenes, which he managed to portray as new and strange. Archival film featuring conversations with Magritte helps illuminate the work of this unique Surrealist.
René Magritte was the leader of the Belgian surrealists, and his influence as a painter on contemporary art continues to be profound. This 50-minute program, completed in 1978, over 10 years after his death, gives a very poetic and succinct description of Magritte's life and work. While his early life was filled with many changes in residence in Belgium, as well as tragedy (his mother drowned herself in the river by their home), the artist Magritte chose a life that was the very opposite of bohemian. He painted in his dining room, disliked traveling, and refused to dress like an artist. The women in his paintings are all likenesses of his wife, Georgette. He insisted on a deadpan style of painting to get away from affectation, as he was striving to discover an unfamiliar poetry in everyday things. In one of his most influential paintings--the depiction of a pipe surmounted with the words in French for "this is not a pipe"--Magritte was pointing out that a painting can not be confused with the actual object. Rather long segments of this program are devoted to contemporary footage dealing with subjects that influenced him, such as horse racing, and also included are home movies of comedic actions by Magritte himself. This program does justice to the greatness of the artist and would be of interest to any art lover. --Anne Barclay Morgan