René Magritte’s Early Art Deco Posters (1924–1927)

The Bel­gian painter René Magritte cre­at­ed some of the most enig­mat­ic and icon­ic works in Sur­re­al­ist art. But before he moved to Paris in 1927 and began forg­ing rela­tion­ships with André Bre­ton and the Sur­re­al­ists, Magritte strug­gled in Brus­sels as a free­lance com­mer­cial artist, cre­at­ing adver­tise­ments in the Art Deco style.

In 1924 Magritte began design­ing posters and adver­tise­ments for the cou­turi­er Hon­orine “Norine” Deschri­jver and her hus­band Paul-Gus­tave Van Hecke, own­ers of the Bel­gian fash­ion com­pa­ny Norine. Van Hecke also owned art gal­leries, and was an ear­ly cham­pi­on of sur­re­al­ism. Van Hecke would even­tu­al­ly pay Magritte a stipend in exchange for the right to mar­ket his sur­re­al­ist works. In the 1924 adver­tis­ing poster above, Magritte por­trays a woman in high heels pre­tend­ing to be Lord Lis­ter, the gen­tle­man thief from Ger­man pulp fic­tion, wear­ing “an after­noon coat cre­at­ed by Norine.”

Magritte designed some 40 sheet music cov­ers, most of them in the Art Deco style, accord­ing to Hrag Var­tan­ian at Hyper­al­ler­gic. The one above, “Arli­ta,” is from about 1925. The French and Dutch sub­ti­tles read “The Song of Light.”

The har­le­quin-themed image above is anoth­er adver­tise­ment for Norine, cir­ca 1925. Magritte paint­ed it in water­col­or and gouache. The pen­ciled inscrip­tion at the bot­tom reads “une robe du soir par Norine” — “an evening gown by Norine.”

In 1926 Magritte was com­mis­sioned to cre­ate the poster above for the pop­u­lar singer Marie-Louise Van Eme­len, bet­ter known as Primevère. For more of Magrit­te’s Art Deco sheet music cov­ers, vis­it Hyper­al­ler­gic.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in 2013.

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