Son of Man is a famous Surrealist oil painting by talented artist Rene Magritte, who remains one of the most respected Europeans within this highly contemporary art movement. This website is devoted to the Son of Man painting and also covers the rest of Magritte's career in great detail.
You will find many of his most famous paintings included throughout this page, as well as links to where you can buy your own reproduction prints of Magritte's original paintings.
Son of Man is known for it's bizarre use of an apple in front of the head of a man dressed smartly in a suit. The Son of Man is actually a truly surrealist depiction of Magritte himself, as his best known self-portrait, though many who like the painting are not actually aware of this and enjoy the mystery around it.
As with most surrealist paintings, Son of Man is only truly understood as a work in it's own right once a small amount of study has been done on it - you can't simply browse through images of Magritte's work and understand it straight away.
Son of Man by Rene Magritte was created in 1964 and represents the finest piece of art work to have come from the career of this Belgian innovator. The original piece stands at an impressive 116 cm × 89 cm (45.67 in × 35 in) and is the typical oil on canvas that was found right throughout the 20th century. Sadly the Son of Man is now privately owned meaning that the opportunity to see it for yourself are rare, despite it's great fame and importance within the overall European surrealist movement.
In view of it's status as a privately owned piece, many choose to buy reproductions of the original to enjoy in their own homes and these can take the form of prints, posters and stretched canvases. Framed prints tend to be the most popular choice and also giclees can best match the original colour schemes chosen by Magritte. All of the links included within this website offer Rene Magritte prints from recommended retailer, Art.com, whom we regularly use ourselves.
Rene Magritte was an impressionist early on in his career before arriving at his trademark surrealist style after several years of study which helped to develop both his technical ability and also his range of ideas that inspired his work. Surrealism is one of the most popular aspects of contemporary art from the 20th century, and Magritte sits at the top of the pile within this, alongside other greats like Spaniard Salvador Dali.
Surrealism has gathered a large group of fans in almost a cultish style but the movement has certainly become part of mainstream art over the years, after first being seen with suspicion and not the same academic respect that it receives today.
Magritte's approach to art was intended to encourage his supporters to consider more closely the reality that lays around them, and not just accept things as they appear to be.
This deep thinking mentality is highly typical of any significant artist, particularly from those in the more contemporary art movements which placed a high level of importance on the creative mind which sat behind each painting, rather than simply the technical skill which was used to create it.
Surrealist paintings typically offer the viewer a confused reality with high levels of symbolism and Magritte shows this off in Son of Man. Many of his other notable paintings are listed further down the page, and images of the best are found right across this website.
Other notable Surrealist painters included Paul Éluard, Benjamin Péret, René Crevel, Robert Desnos, Jacques Baron, Max Morise, Pierre Naville, Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí, Man Ray, Hans Arp, Georges Malkine, Michel Leiris, Georges Limbour, André Masson, Joan Miró, Marcel Duchamp and Yves Tanguy.
A few years after this painting, American artist Norman Rockwell created his own version which replaced the green apple with a red one and played homage to the original which probably stands as the most famous Belgian painting of all time.
The Great War on Façades followed a similar format to this and that is also amongst the best known of Magritte's career. Another related work was Man in the Bowler Hat, which replaces an apple with a bird which again is placed in front of the smartly dressed gentleman with bowler hat.
Son of Man came just three years before the artist's death and it is interesting to consider what further surrealist paintings he may have come up with if his life had lasted longer. There is a certain look within his paintings which make them instantly recognisable as his, both with the color scheme and surrealist symbolism. His success has continued onto the present day with frequent exhibitions across Europe and North America.
Rene Magritte is an important artist who was rare in that Belgian artists have very rarely achieved high levels of exposure. His career helps to highlight the role this country has played within art and help to preserve it's reputation which is normally forgotten when compared to it's heavyweight neighbours of Germany, Netherlands and France who all have had an abundance of success for many centuries and across different art movements.
List of Famous Rene Magritte Paintings
Please see below for a summarised list of the best Rene Magritte paintings which are featured throughout this website.
- The Treachery of Images
- On the Threshold of Liberty
- The Son of Man
- The Empty Mask
- The Difficult Crossing
- The Human Condition
- Not to be Reproduced
- Time Transfixed
- Elective Affinities
- The Portrait
- The Mysteries of the Horizon
- The Menaced Assassin
More Rene Magritte Paintings
Golconde by Rene Magritte, 1953 is a Surrealist oil painting currently on display at the Menil Collection, Houston, Texas.
Drops of rain are represented by repeated images of a smart gentleman.
Golconda is known as Golconde in French, which was the preferred language of this Belgian artist.
Suited gentlemen are common used in many of Magritte's paintings, specifically in his period of surrealist work.
Le Blanc-Seing by Rene Magritte, 1965 is a surrealist painting which is known as The Blank Check in English.
Le Blanc-Seing features some interesting techniques which the artist used to create this attention grabbing scene where the background and foreground mingle together.