The life of René Magritte was even more surprising than his art

We live at a time in which we could (until recently) travel without difficulty and take for granted access to cultural treasures. It’s easy to forget that this wasn’t always the case, and minds were shaped by what possibilities were available. The Belgian painter René Magritte is a good example of huge talent pushed through a very narrow opening. His art has now become an exemplar of the striking image that commerce can feature. Advertising regularly uses his paradoxical visual combinations of faces replaced by apples, of skies in the shape of doves, of roses filling rooms and, supremely, the conundrum of the pipe demurely labelled ‘Ceci n’est pas une