René François Ghislain Magritte (November 21, 1898 - August 15, 1967) was a Belgian Surrealist artist known for the inclusion of pictorial and linguistic puzzles in his paintings that challenged viewers’ preconceived definitions of reality, such as the famed pairing of the painted image of a pipe and the written text “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” in his piece The Treachery of Images (1929).
Though Magritte began his artistic career working as an abstract painter, he shifted toward figurative work in 1926, debuting his work The Menaced Assassin the following year in his first solo exhibition at the Galerie Le Centaure in Brussels. That same year Magritte made the move to Paris to be closer to the French Surrealists. Though he only stayed for three short years, this period proved to be the most prolific period of his life. Magritte’s figurative works done in his hallmark deadpan style had a tremendous impact on Surrealism, which up until that point had primarily consisted of abstraction achieved through automatic techniques. By contrast, Magritte employed a more naturalistic style that destabilized viewers’ perception of reality by placing common objects in uncanny scenes, making strange the once familiar.