Born in 1898, Rene Magritte is one of the most venerated Belgian artists of the 20th century. His popularity arose from his idiosyncratic approach to the aspect of surrealism. It is this approach that earned him both admiration and distaste, but he stood by his style of painting. He developed his artistic talent over many years, working as a commercial artist. One of his major works is Personal Values (1952).
A different approach
Created in 1952, the painting Personal Values by Rene Magritte is rather strange. Rene adopts a rather different approach to art than most of his contemporaries who included Salvador Dali and Yves Tanguy. Instead of creating fantasy, he depicts the strangeness and ambiguity of modern life. While many other painters of the time dwelt on visions, which they vividly depicted in their works, Rene stuck to the ordinary, and in his words, affirmed that he would never paint visions. So irked by this approach was his dealer that he lost his temper. However, Rene maintained his stance remarked that modern life is full of objects of useless luxury, such as the oversize comb and the beauty paint brush in his painting.
A defiance of common sense
In this painting, Rene depicts a room in a topsy-turvy state. The only two pieces of furniture in the room are a bed in one corner, and a dressing chest in the other. A comb, much bigger than the bed, stands on the bed reclining on the wall. On top of the dressing chest is a face brush, also blown out of proportion. An empty wine glass stands on the floor, and next to it, a bar of soap. The walls of the room are rather bizarre as they depict the sky. This picture defies all logic and common sense.
Confusion in the modern world
The painting Personal Values, no doubt depicts the confusion present in the contemporary world. Rene seems to be criticising society for attaching value to objects that are not so useful, such as the comb and the brush, which appear to hold more value than the bed. The wine glass, representing alcohol shows that people are more inclined to drinking than anything else. The painting may look out of place but drives a powerful message home.