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Belgian artist Paul Delvaux was born in Liège in eastern Belgium. Despite Delvaux’s desire to become an artist, his lawyer father encouraged him to train as an architect at the prestigious Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.
Thanks to private art tuition undertaken alongside his architectural studies, in 1925 Delvaux gained his first solo exhibition in Brussels. Heavily influenced by contemporary Expressionism and Surrealism, Delvaux was soon drawn to the ‘metaphysical’ paintings of Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico. On a chance visit to a museum of medical curiosities, Delvaux was moved by the sight of uncanny skeletons and haunting automatons – images and memories of which would provide his work with lifelong and evocative motifs.
Although most famous for his enigmatic female nudes set in dream-like landscapes, Delvaux - often compared to fellow Belgian surrealist René Magritte – did not in fact consider himself one of the surrealists, who were primarily concerned with the ‘interior logic’ of the unconscious mind. In developing his own unique iconography, Delvaux, instead, emphasised hallucinatory childhood readings of Classical Greek literature and the fictional fantasies of novelist Jules Verne.
In 1958 Delvaux was elected a member of the Académie Royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique and, in 1965, became a director of his alma mater, the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. To compliment his widely featured work in international museums across the world, the Paul Delvaux Museum opened on the south west coast of Belgium in 1982.
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