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b. 1898, Lessines, Belgium; d. 1967, Brussels
René François Ghislain Magritte was born on November 21, 1898, in Lessines, Belgium. He studied intermittently between 1916 and 1918 at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. Magritte first exhibited at the Centre d'Art in Brussels in 1920. After completing military service in 1921, he worked briefly as a designer in a wallpaper factory. In 1923 he participated with Lyonel Feininger, El Lissitzky, László Moholy-Nagy, and the Belgian Paul Joostens in an exhibition at the Cercle Royal Artistique in Antwerp. In 1924 he collaborated with E. L. T. Mesens on the review Oesophage.
In 1927 Magritte was given his first solo exhibition at the Galerie le Centaure in Brussels. Later that year the artist left Brussels to establish himself in Le Perreux-sur-Marne, near Paris, where he frequented the Surrealist circle, which included Jean Arp, André Breton, Salvador Dalí, Paul Eluard, and Joan Miró. In 1928 Magritte took part in the Exposition surréaliste at the Galerie Goemans in Paris. He returned to Belgium in 1930, and three years later was given a solo show at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. Magritte's first solo exhibition in the United States took place at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York in 1936 and the first in England at the London Gallery in 1938. He was represented as well in the 1936 Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Throughout the 1940s Magritte showed frequently at the Galerie Dietrich in Brussels. During the following two decades he executed various mural commissions in Belgium. From 1953 he exhibited frequently at the galleries of Alexander Iolas in New York, Paris, and Geneva. Magritte retrospectives were held in 1954 at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels and in 1960 at the Museum for Contemporary Arts, Dallas, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. On the occasion of his retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1965, Magritte traveled to the United States for the first time, and the following year he visited Israel. Magritte died on August 15, 1967, in Brussels, shortly after the opening of a major exhibition of his work at the Museum Boymans-van Beuningen in Rotterdam.