The Invention of Life

7:00 AM

René Magritte, The Invention of Life, 1928


You’re sitting in a room full of paintings, admiring each and every one of them. You get up and walk over to a painting that makes you stop, think, and question what the meaning behind it is. Along with that, you realize how although you may be confused by the painting, you are able to feel the emotion and isolation behind it, making the appreciation of the work of art so much more immense. I personally got this feeling while researching the artist, Magritte.

René Magritte took a quirky approach to surrealism that was admired by many. His use of individuality and repetition allowed him to create some of his most successful works. His paintings have a weird, yet simplistic beauty about them, but also an eerie vibe that lurks through the paint on the canvas; something that sparks a bit of darkness. He once said, “Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.” This concept was shown through the textual and visual signs he incorporated in his works to invoke a sense of mystery within language. You could say his paintings were individual autobiographies of his life, which helps show the viewer that there is always something a little strange in all of our lives, even if we are not aware of it.

Magritte’s painting, The Invention of Life (1928), is one of the paintings that encapsulates a part of his life. It presents the story of both life and death, thus showing the delicacy of living. There are two female figures, one staring at the viewer and the other “hooded” with cloth-like fabric as seen in many of his other paintings. The “hood” conceals the reality of emotions and one’s identity. The woman that is being concealed represents his mother who in fact, committed suicide when Magritte was just 14 years of age. Without the sight of his mother’s death in his subconscious, his creativity and view on life in his painting would be completely different.

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