René Magritte

Belgian (Lessines, Belgium, 1898 - 1967, Schaerbeek, Belgium)

Although widely associated with surrealist artists like Salvador Dalí and Max Ernst, René Magritte pursued a different goal, that of a heightened awareness of reality.

A graduate of the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Magritte spent the bulk of his career in Belgium. His impassive, realistic style intensified the effect of his quietly strange renderings of familiar objects and situations. These often involve manipulations of scale (a giant comb; a tiny bed) or the confusion of opposites: interior and exterior, night and day, the human self and the inanimate object.

Magritte was particularly interested in the conventional, deeply engrained equation of material things with pictorial or linguistic representations. His works prompt us to resist our habitual response and to recognize the painted images before us as precisely that — images, and not the things they depict.

From June 3, 2013, through early 2016, SFMOMA's building on Third Street in San Francisco will be temporarily closed for expansion construction. Selected artworks in our collection are included in a range of off-site exhibitions during this period. We regret that the remainder of the collection will not be available for study during this time.

In the meantime, we invite you to explore a wide selection of our collection online. Please note that the information presented online is subject to revision. Please contact us at to verify artwork details.

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