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In the footsteps of Magritte: New street art trail marks 125th anniversary of Belgian surrealist artist

In the footsteps of Magritte - art trail Brussels
15:52 30/06/2023

He is Belgium’s most famous artist and the city of Brussels is celebrating the 125th anniversary of René Magritte’s birth with a series of events and exhibitions.

The latest one to open is an outdoor project by French street artist Julien de Casabianca. In the footsteps of Magritte is a series of monumental collages that adorn facades in the city until 7 January.

Clouds, pipes, bowler hats, and green apples remain some of the most immediately recognisable icons of the artist’s works.

Homme de dos 2

Casabianca has lifted characters and objects from many of the famous paintings. The predominant figure is a bowler-hatted man; the familiar outline features in many of the ephemeral artworks.

The Corsican artist was inspired by three symbolist paintings in particular: The Schoolmaster (1954), The Happy Donor (1966) and The Unexpected Answer (1932).

It was Magritte’s style to distort commonplace images by depicting them in unusual scenes; making the familiar disturbing and raising questions about the nature of representation and reality. These images are also highly humourous and familiar worldwide.

Oiseau 1

The eight works in the trail represent a journey into the work of Magritte, an artist who symbolises Belgium and continues to inspire both artists and the public.

Equally familiar are the facades that are temporarily graced by the collages: the Royal Library of Belgium (KBR), the Novotel, the Hotel Amigo and the Régie des Bâtiments, among others. They stretch from the Place De Brouckère to the Mont des Arts and Place Royale.

An initiative of the Magritte Foundation, the Magritte Museum and the City of Brussels, the trail was inaugurated by the alderwoman for culture, tourism and major events Delphine Houba. “This is not an exhibition, but we are very happy that it is taking place,” she quipped at the opening, in reference to the artist’s feted painting This is Not a Pipe.


Underlining the accessible nature of the exhibition, she added: "People do not always feel entitled to enter a museum, but art is for everyone and it’s therefore important that it’s in the street."

It was a message reiterated by the president of the Magritte Foundation Charly Herscovici: "Magritte must always remain alive and the best way is to exhibit it both in museums and in the streets."

For Brussels mayor Philippe Close it was an honour to welcome an internationally renowned artist such as Julien de Casabianca. "This intervention perpetuates the modernity of René Magritte's work in the public space, for the benefit of our residents and visitors.”

Géant 1

Casabianca, from Corsica, is an expert at creating pop-up XXL collages on iconic façades around the world. His work is respectful of the environment and doesn’t damage the walls, using predominantly standard wallpaper paste made from biodegradable plant-based raw materials.

In the footsteps of Magritte
Until 7 January
Brussels city-centre

Photos: ©City of Brussels/Eric Danhier

Written by Sarah Crew