Les frôleuses; Provocative woman; seductive.
Marcel Mariën (April 29, 1920 in Antwerp – September 19, 1993 in Brussels) was a Belgian surrealist (later Situationist), poet, essayist, photographer, collagist, filmmaker, and maker of objects.
Mariën was one of the most intriguing and elusive figures in the Belgian wing of the Surrealist movement. He was not only an artist, but also a publisher, a bookseller, a sailor, a journalist in China and an elaborate Surrealist prankster.
Aged 15, Marien became apprentice to a photographer – initially undertaking menial roles, but later setting up a home studio to develop his own projects. In 1937, he first encountered the surrealist paintings of René Magritte in exhibition and – inspired by André Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto – traveled to Brussels to seek out the artist.
Magritte was warmly welcomed into the close-knit Belgian Surrealist group. Within a year, he had his own work included in the Surrealist group exhibition, Surrealist Objects and Poems, in London.
In 1939, he enlisted in the Belgian Army to fight in World War II, but was captured and held as a prisoner of war in Germany. Following his release, he returned to Brussels and, in 1943, wrote and published the very first monograph on Magritte.
It was not until 1943 that he produced his first photograph with a distinctive personal vision, “De Sade à Lénine”, an image of a woman cutting a slice of bread, the loaf gripped tightly against her naked torso, the blade pointing at her left breast. Mariën commented, “the knife passes from de Sade to Lenin”.
It was pure Surrealism, marked with the two themes that would characterize his photography: the everyday object stripped of its traditional function and the female body as an instrument of creation.
Mariën was never a practical man and was helped by his partner Hedwige Benedix in the production of his art work. In 1983, a year after her death, he again took up photography as a quick and immediate way of expressing his ideas. He carried on where he had left off in 1942 and began producing one extraordinary image after another, simple yet elegant surreal images with free associations of imagery and text. More on Marcel Mariën
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