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René Magritte

Time Transfixed

René Magritte. Time Transfixed, 1938. Joseph Winterbotham Collection © 2018 C. Herscovici, London / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Also known as
René François Ghislain Magritte, 勒内·马格利特
Date of birth
Date of death

A major figure of the Surrealist movement, the Belgian artist René Magritte created some of the most extraordinary and iconic images of the 20th century. Seeking to “make the most everyday objects shriek aloud,” Magritte transformed familiar, commonplace objects into unfamiliar and ambiguous scenes through surprising juxtapositions, scale shifts, and word play.

One of Magritte’s most widely circulated images, Time Transfixed embodies the artist’s precise manner of painting and his surprising juxtapositions of seemingly unrelated elements in varying scales. As the artist described: “I decided to paint the image of a locomotive… . In order for its mystery to be evoked, another immediately familiar image without mystery—the image of a dining room fireplace—was joined.” 

In 2014, the Art Institute organized a major exhibition of Magritte’s work from a profoundly experimental period in his early career when he developed his mature style. Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938 showcased over 100 paintings, collages, drawings, and objects, along with a selection of photographs, periodicals, and early commercial work, that traced the birth of the themes and strategies Magritte used throughout his long, productive career.

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