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Magritte: This is Not a Biography

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  341 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Intoxicated by the promise of a promotion, Charles Singular for once allows himself a small extravagance: he buys a bowler hat. But there’s a problem: this is no ordinary hat. This one once belonged to the surrealist painter René Magritte, and by donning it Charles has unwittingly stepped into the artist’s off-kilter world. What’s more, he can’t escape—at least, not until ...more
Paperback, 72 pages
Published November 7th 2017 by SelfMadeHero (first published November 4th 2016)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
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David Schaafsma
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Belgian Rene Magritte was a surrealist painter. Images abound of his wearing a bowler, and bowlers are featured in several of his paintings. Here he is wearing it, and 368 of his most famous paintings.

D. B. Johnson focused on that hat in a children’s picture book biography of Magritte:

To art scholars and those interested in epistemology, he is known for—among other things--this painting, which asserts an idea—“The Tr
Sam Quixote
Nov 12, 2017 rated it liked it
A man buys a bowler hat that magically transports him into the surrealist world of painter Rene Magritte, surrounded by the artist’s images and themes. Why a bowler hat? Because of Magritte’s most famous painting, The Son of Man (the businessman in a bowler hat whose face is obscured by a green apple).

In Magritte: This is Not a Biography, writer Vincent Zabus takes the imaginative approach to tell a non-fiction biography in the form of a fictional narrative. Because of this style and the book’s
Rod Brown
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
A surrealistic biography of Magritte is fitting, I suppose, but it is also too clever by half. It’s funny how I can find a surrealistic image to be quite arresting, but more often than not a surrealistic story to be annoying.
Mateen Mahboubi
I can't help but compare this with the other books in the Art Masters series, some of which I've loved, others I've liked less. Unfortunately this falls in the latter category. I think that so far, they've all been visually stunning, borrowing from the artists' style and famous works, the books have all had a great style but I just wasn't able to connect with Campi on this journey. Maybe it was because of my lack of experience with and knowledge of Magritte's works but I would have hoped that th ...more
Dakota Morgan
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Thomas Campi's artwork is beautiful, Vincent Zabus's story is non-sensical and offers very little information about Magritte himself. The subtitle is apt: this is not a biography. I kinda wanted it to be one. If you stumble across this book in an art museum gift store, it's certainly worth a skim for the art. I'd recommend skipping the words though.
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
PDF - Extremely well done and beautifully drawn biography/tribute album, that echos Magritte's themes and works in effective and surprising ways.
3.5 STARS - A quick read that delves you into Magritte's life, one of the most famous 20th-century surrealist painter. It's perfect for art amateurs such as myself who wants to learn a little about surrealism. The biography is concise; we don't get full details of the events of his life but it's enough to understand what kind of man he was. The art style is pretty, the color vibrant and the way Campi re-appropriated the paintings in his own way was aesthetically pleasing. Besides, the whole grap ...more
Christa Van
Jun 30, 2018 rated it liked it
A man buys a bowler hat unaware that it was once owned by surrealist painter Rene Magritte. When he dons the hat, he is transported into a surreal world where he is required to solve the mystery of Magritte before he will be allowed to remove the hat. Through various interactions with guides and biographers, he learns about Magritte and his wife, their lives and influences. In the end, he is confronted by Magritte himself who claims there are no answers before sending our protagonist back to rea ...more
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
On a whim, I snagged this off the New Graphic Novels section at my library because that title is just too good. I realized that I knew pretty much nothing about Magritte, other than his "This is not a hat" painting, so reading it was a nice primer. The story is pretty weird. I kept thinking, "This is really surreal," and then mentally facepalming because DUH, it's about a surrealist painter. The art in the panels is beautiful and made this graphic novel stand out to me. Fair warning for some pro ...more
Sofia Drew
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
The art in this novel is absolutely stunning. You can tell that a lot of thought has gone into this, and it's a very clever format for telling a story about an artist's life. I liked how it was somewhere in between fiction and nonfiction. It still included facts from Magritte's life, but the way these were depicted was bizarre and surreal.
However, I did find this quite confusing to follow and I still feel like I didn't really get the idea behind his artworks. This book has intrigued me and I now
A strange graphic novel about a man who gets sucked into learning about Rene Magritte...a surrealist journey fitting the artist's work. I found it a little hard to follow...but part of that is getting used to the graphic novel medium. Favorite part...Campi's oil paintings and watercolors of the central character and his signature bowler hat at the end. P.S. I had the English translation...would be fun to give the French a try!
Katie Voss
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is not a biography, but it has enough biographical content to satisfy my curiosity. Blending graphic novel-esque panelling with miniature reproductions of Magritte's art, the author/creator takes us on a wild and surreal journey through the artist's life. This was a phenomenal way to learn about an artist. Apparently there are a handful of other books like this in the 'Art Masters' series and I can't wait to read them as well.
Deb Holden
This is a graphic novel in English here in the US. This is the second biographical graphic novel it have read and I just find it difficult to truly enjoy them. That said this one is of particular interest because it does give a visual context to the artist and his work. It also tries to further develop the works with what the artist was trying to convey. It is a very quick read.
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
A cute and clever way to do a graphic biography: a haunted bowler hat forces a normal guy to explore surrealism and Magritte, the absent ghost guiding him through bizarre worlds and ideas behind his paintings and personal life.
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this so much! The art is just spectacular and had me staring at a page for several minutes at a time. I was smiling the entire time I read this and when I was done went back and just spent more time looking at the illustrations! Can't wait to read the rest in the series.
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I don't think I've ever read a book or graphic novel as interesting and unique as this one. This is such a great book to introduce kids to not only the artists and their work but also their concept, background, and way of thinking all within a fictional story inspired by truth.
Sanjeev Kumar
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
Amazing in every sense. The art is a delight. The subject matter intriguing and insightful. I wish this was printed on better quality paper and much bigger. It deserves the attention. I finished it hungry to explore Magritte and lose myself in his world. A delightful work.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderfully illustrated and narrated biography of Magritte; compels me to read others in the Art Masters series.
May 03, 2018 rated it liked it
much better than the sartre one. older teens. good opening intro to surrealism
Katja (Life and Other Disasters)
Magritte was always one of my favourite artists, so this was really cool and touched upon a lot of his life in a short number of pages! The art is formidable!!
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
A graphic non-biography of surrealist artist Magritte told by and to a man who happens to buy his bowler hat and all that ensues?
4* very close to 5*
Aug 19, 2018 rated it liked it
A man buys a bowler hat and is launched into a surrealist world modeled after painter Renee Magritte. My favorite part is the beautiful art of the comics.
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Quirky, imaginative. Good adjunct to the recent retrospective of Magritte's work at the SFMOMA.
Amber Graham
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This story seems to be emulating the style of the artist it's about. It wonderfully challenged thinking in a usual way, and I appreciated it greatly.
Lisa Macklem
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Take the title seriously! It's not a biography but a lovely meditation on Magritte. Lovely art.
Leslie Jonsson
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Incredible story of Renee Magritte, the surrealist master. Even though this is not a biography it offers many details of his life.
Edward Sanchez
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novel
I loved the ending to this book!
Nov 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Sweet illustrations with clever uses of Magritte's paintings. Not super interesting/detailed on the actual biography side though.
Nov 18, 2018 rated it liked it
A sort of stealth biography in graphic novel form.
Melissa Henrichs
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
Enjoyable and entertaining way to learn more about Magritte's life.
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