Magic Realism Paintings

Some Dutch painters who were active from the 1920s and 1930s onwards - in the midst of an art world in which painting was becoming increasingly abstract and expressive (see also Expressionism) - resorted to realism. In 1925, the German critic Franz Roh gave a name to this movement in painting for the first time, notably in Nach-Expressionismus - Magischer Realismus: Probleme der neuesten europäischen Malerei (Leipzig, 1925) . Thus seen, this designation soon coincided with the new objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit), with which Gustav Hartlaub had named the oppressive work of George Grosz and Otto Dix in 1924.

Magic realism seeks its inspiration outside of all-too-daily reality and within dream and delusion, hence also the equivalent designation of fantastic realism. Englishmen often refer to this as Precise Realism and Sharp-Focus Realism. Such works are characterized by the meticulous, almost photographic reproduction of realistic-looking scenes, which exude a mysterious and magical atmosphere. Ambiguous perspectives and an unusual way of depicting things side by side further reinforce this magical suggestion. Technical and purely craft skills are inherent to this style. The combination of existing and non-existing elements, the play of light and color and the technically perfect finish make for mysterious, sometimes menacing paintings that give their depiction of reality an alienating character. This makes the movement also related to surrealism.

The magical realistic representations are often possible, but not probable. Often their subjects refer to death, menace and decay.

Starting in 1915, Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico emerged as the trailblazer for magic realism with his Pittura Metafisica.

In 1920, the German artist Max Ernst turned his back on the Dadaism of Cologne and settled in Paris at the invitation of André Breton. There, in 1921, he created l'Elephant Célébes and immediately became the international promoter of surrealism.

  • In the Netherlands, Maurits Cornelis Escher, Carel Willink (who preferred to call his work Imaginary Realism) are particularly prominent. In addition, Corstiaan de Vries, Pyke Koch, Wim Schuhmacher, Raoul Hynckes, Alfred Hafkenscheid, Johan Ponsioen, Dick Ket and as a precursor Jan Mankes. A related movement in the Netherlands are the so-called 'Meta-realists' with painters such as Johfra, Diana Vandenberg, Victor Linford, Frans Erkelens and Ellen Lorién.
  • In Belgium, in addition to Octave Landuyt, Jef Van Tuerenhout and Aubin Pasque, the grandmasters Paul Delvaux and René Magritte obtain international fame.
  • Felix Labisse, Robert Tatin, Alain Giron, Max Bucaille, André Béguin and Gérard Eppelé are French name bearers.
  • Austria's Ernst Fuchs, Italy's Leonor Fini and Spain's Salvador Dalí enjoy international fame.
  • In Germany, Matthias Brandes, Heinrich Maria Davringhausen, Rolf Escher, Walter Gramatté, Carl Grossberg, Konrad Klapheck, Franz Radziwill, Georg Schrimpf, Walter Schulz-Matan, Walter Spies, Günther Thiersch, Werner Tübke, Paul Wans, Herbert Wetterauer, and Christian Schad (1894-1982) painted in the magic-realist style.
  • Twenty-first century magic realists include Patricia van Lubeck, Peter van Oostzanen and Uko Post.


Visit our media section for a complete overview.


Fantasy Fiction
Imaginary Realism
Magic Realism
Magic Realism Paintings
Magical Realism
Marvelous Realism


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This page was last changed on 2021-09-21.