René Magritte


1898, Lessines, Belgium
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.

René Magritte upsets the order of language and objects by making us question what exactly we're looking at — our perception of reality and meaning.

Works in the Collection

Please note that artwork locations are subject to change, and not all works are on view at all times. If you are planning a visit to SFMOMA to see a specific work of art, we suggest you contact us at collections@sfmoma.org to confirm it will be on view.

Only a portion of SFMOMA's collection is currently online, and the information presented here is subject to revision. Please contact us at collections@sfmoma.org to verify collection holdings and artwork information. If you are interested in receiving a high resolution image of an artwork for educational, scholarly, or publication purposes, please contact us at copyright@sfmoma.org.

This resource is for educational use and its contents may not be reproduced without permission. Please review our Terms of Use for more information.