MUSÉE MAGRITTE MUSEUM - BRUSSELS
Surrealism at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts
The Royal Museum of Fine Arts at the Place Royal in Brussels had long had a few rooms dedicated to the works of the Belgian born Surrealist, Rene Magritte, but with the assistance of the Magritte Foundation and GDF Suez companies, in June of 2009, opened the new Magritte Museum on four floors of the refurbished Altenloh Hotel building attached to the fine arts museum holding more than 200 works of Magritte including oils on canvas, gouaches, drawings, painted objects and sculptures, as well as letters, historical documents, advertising posters, music scores, vintage photographs and films which Magritte produced. The collection follows the development of Magritte as an artist, shaped as much by his changing world view as by his developing technique.
Though neither the first or last, perhaps no other artist is more famously associated with Surrealism than the artist born in Lessines, Hainaut in 1898 (though some might propose Salvador Dali). Magritte started taking painting classes at the age of 12, influenced by a fascination with Edgar Allen Poe and the films depicting a fictional French serial killer character Fantômas, perhaps deeply influenced by the suicide of his mother, who drowned herself when he was 14. He studied art at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he was introduced to a teaming artistic cauldron changing art forms, Dadaists and Constructivists. Inspired by Italian surrealist Giorgio de Chirico’s, “The Song of Love”, Magritte starts on his own journey into surrealism stating with his “The Lost Jockey” in 1926. Returning to Brussels to open an advertising agency, Studio Dongo, with his brother, Magritte entered a very productive period in the 1930s. When the war broke out, Magritte left Belgium for the South of France. And in the 1950s began to explore filmmaking, and sculpture until his death in 1967.
The collection at the royal museum is a little shy on Magritte’s major paintings which are in the hands of collectors and museums around the world, though temporary exhibitions will bring some of them to Brussels. Several of the paintings here feature Georgette Berger, Magritte’s wife and muse, to be found in many of his works clothed, nude, invisible, hidden and otherwise. Many of the pieces on view are sketch works, ruminations, and illustrations of a developing artist’s distinctive viewpoint, his unique - there, but not there - picture of the world, like a child forever playing peek-a-boo.
The museum is entered through the main portal of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, then down to the lower floor for the entrance to an elevator ride to the top, with the exhibit followed downward through the floors in a circulating route. Many of the artifacts, like Magritte’s hand written notes and printed articles are in French, so non-speakers will have to make do with audio guide descriptions. The new Magritte Museum is a very popular stop in Brussels with timed entry tickets reserved in advance. It may be possible to show up early for an immediate entry ticket, but the slots will fill during the day for latter the same day or the next day entry. Advanced tickets can be purchased online.
Completely separate from the Magritte Museum at the Royal Museum, the house where Magritte lived with his wife Georgette until 1954 is also a museum, the René Magritte Museum, located at Rue Esseghem 135 in the north Brussels neighborhood of Jette, with exhibits of Magritte’s home life spread over two floors.
Visiting the Magritte Museum
The Magritte Museum at the Royal Museum is open Tuesday to Sundays 10am to 5pm. Closed on Mondays and some holidays. Admission for adults is 8 €, Seniors 5 €, Students 18-25 2 €, free for children under 18, disabled or with a Brussels Card. The Modern Art and Ancient Art branches at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts require separate admission, with a combination ticket available for 13 €. Audio Guides in five languages are 4 €. © Bargain Travel Europe
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