About us
Artists Paul Delvaux
Paul Delvaux Photo

Paul Delvaux

Belgian Painter

Movement: Surrealism

Born: September 23, 1897 - Antheit, Belgium

Died: July 20, 1994 - Veurne, Belgium

Paul Delvaux Timeline

Quotes

"All my life I've tried to transcribe reality to make it into a kind of dream."
Paul Delvaux
"I do not feel the need to give a temporal explanation of what I do, neither do I feel the need to account for my human subjects who exist only for the purpose of my painting. These figures recount no history: they are. Further, they express nothing in themselves."
Paul Delvaux
"Delvaux has turned the whole universe into a single realm in which one woman, always the same woman, reigns over the great suburbs of the heart, where the ancient windmills of Flanders make a pearl necklace revolve in an aura of glittering ore."
André Breton
"A bizarre external landscape propelled by large psychic forces."
J.G. Ballard on Delvaux
"The moment we begin to follow in the footsteps of Paul Delvaux, we discover a planet whose gravitational pull gives our gestures a different weight."
Maurice Nadeau

"I would like to create a fabulous painting in which I would live, in which I could live."

Paul Delvaux Signature

Synopsis

Paul Delvaux's career developed in the shadow of Nazi Germany. It should not come as a surprise then, that his work is known for a distinct sense of anxiety and unease. Surprisingly, that anxiety is not expressed in overtly political subjects. Delvaux was instead interested in exploring humanity and the hidden recesses of the subconscious. He began his artistic training studying architecture in 1916, but soon shifted his focus to painting. While he initially found inspiration in European Expressionism, his mature style was inspired by an altogether different source: The Surrealists. Although he was not an official member of the Surrealists, he shared the group's interest in plumbing the depths of the mind. Like his contemporaries Giorgio de Chirico and René Magritte, Delvaux used bizarre subject matter rather than abstraction as a means of expressiveness. In so doing, he created uncomfortable scenes that were designed to emotionally shock the viewer.

Key Ideas

The architectural settings of Delvaux's paintings were much more than background; in fact, they were some of his most engaging subjects. This is not surprising given that his earliest artistic training was in architecture. The Classical buildings, city squares, and train stations that staged his mysterious scenes were essential to achieving his distinct moods.
Nude women are a hallmark of Delvaux's work. They exist somewhere between the realm of statuary and of sex objects, and their very ambiguity is one of the most arresting and confounding features of Delvaux's paintings.
Delvaux's paintings depict bizarre scenes that bring together elements that don't make sense. His highly naturalistic painting technique compounds the uneasy feeling of his scenes. That such peculiar things are depicted within such believable spaces - without any abstraction of forms and with a bright light that leaves nothing in murky shadow - is disquieting.

Biography

Paul Delvaux Photo

Childhood

Delvaux was born into the new technological age, one of imagination and invention. He was fascinated by trains and trams, but his overriding passion was for Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), which he loved because of the fantastical worlds it created and its haunting illustrations by Édouard Riou. As the son of a lawyer, Delvaux was expected to follow in his father's footsteps, and so he embarked on a classical education. His imagination was fueled by the myths of Ancient Greece, most notably the story of Odysseus. He recalled a childhood fear of a skeleton that was displayed in his school music room. The skeleton's leering grin haunted his nightmares and served as fodder for his active imagination. All of these childhood influences left a lasting mark on his memory; he once explained that "youthful impressions, fixed once and for all in the mind, influence you all your life."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Paul Delvaux Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Paul Delvaux
Interactive chart with Paul Delvaux's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Giorgio de ChiricoGiorgio de Chirico
James EnsorJames Ensor

Personal Contacts

René MagritteRené Magritte

Movements

Post-ImpressionismPost-Impressionism
ExpressionismExpressionism
SurrealismSurrealism

Influences on Artist
Paul Delvaux
Paul Delvaux
Years Worked: 1920 - 1994
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Henri StorckHenri Storck

Personal Contacts

André BretonAndré Breton
Paul EluardPaul Eluard

Movements

SurrealismSurrealism

If you see an error or typo, please:
tell us
Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Jen Farren

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Ellen Hurst

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Jen Farren
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Ellen Hurst
Available from:
[Accessed ]