René François Ghislain Magritte (French: [ʁəne fʁɑ̃swa ɡilɛ̃ maɡʁit]; 21 November 1898 – 15 August 1967) was a Belgian surrealist artist. He became well known for a number of witty and thought-provoking images. Often depicting ordinary objects in an unusual context, his work is known for challenging observers' preconditioned perceptions of reality. His imagery has influenced pop, minimalist and conceptual art.
An influential figure in Surrealism, Magritte is now regarded as possibly the most important Belgian artist of the 20th century. Inspired by the works of De Chirico, in the 1920s he began to experiment with concepts of reality in his paintings, altering form and often creating entirely new objects, giving his work the mystical look of a riddle. By 1926 he became involved with the Belgian Surrealist movement, and later lived in Paris from 1927-1930, connecting with the Surrealists in that city and painting full-time. His work began exploring a disconnect between normal objects, or between text and what is shown, as with his work "Treachery of Images" where the image of a pipe is accompanied by the text "Ceci n'est pas une pipe". Possibly drawing from his experience in advertising, his work employed standard human types, such as his businessman wearing a bowler hat, whose image appeared in numerous works. Magritte had been fairly well-known due to his association with the French Surrealists, but did not become an internationally recognized artist until 1948, when he signed a contract with New York dealer Alexander Iolas. He died in 1967, several days after the opening of a major retrospective of his work.