Louis Scutenaire  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Louis Scutenaire was a poet, anarchist, surrealist and civil servant. Born Jean Émile Louis Scutenaire in Ollignies, Belgium, June 29 1905; died Brussels, August 15 1987.


Louis Scutenaire is chiefly remembered as a central figure in the Belgian Surrealist movement, along with René Magritte, Paul Nougé, Marcel Lecomte and his own wife Irène Hamoir. He studied law at the Université libre de Bruxelles and was a criminal lawyer from 1931 to 1944. In 1926 he discovered surrealism and was a primary contributor to the Revue surréaliste. He was sympathetic to Communism during the 1930s and 1940s but as the truth about the Stalin regime became more apparent, he grew disenchanted with it and became an anarchist. After the Second World War he became a civil servant in the Belgian Ministry of the Interior, a job he kept for the rest of his life.

Scutenaire grew disillusioned with the increasing commercialisation of Surrealism after the Second World War, but this did not apparently impair his close friendship with the most famous Belgian surrealist René Magritte. Scutenaire and his wife would visit the Magritte home on Sundays, where Scutenaire would be invited to give titles to Magritte's recent paintings; 170 of the paintings still bear the titles that Scutenaire suggested. (He is also the model for the figure in Magritte's canvas Universal Gravitation.)

Scutenaire's published works include a series of books entitled Mes Inscriptions, collections of gnomic and mischievous aphorisms, as well as one of the earliest and most entertaining monographs on Magritte. He was awarded in 1985 the Grand Prix spécial de l'Humour noir in recognition of his achievements as a writer with a lifelong distrust of authority and institution.

He died twenty years to the hour after his friend Magritte, just after watching a television programme on the painter.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Louis Scutenaire" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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