Brain Pickings

René Magritte’s Little-Known Art Deco Sheet Music Covers from the 1920s

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From wallpaper to Golconda by way of Art Deco.

Belgian Surrealist artist René Magritte may have carved his place in art history as a master of mind-bending, advertising-influenced imagery at the intersection of aesthetics and philosophy, but he also had a little-known early commercial career like other subsequently famous artists, including Warhol. Young Magritte made rent by working as a draughtsman at a wallpaper factory and designing graphic ephemera, among which were some 40 sheet music covers he produced in the 1920s, nearly two decades before Alex Steinweiss invented the album cover as we know it today.

'Marche des Snobs,' sheet music cover (1924). 13 3/4x10 1/2 inches, 35x26 3/4 cm. J. Buyst, Brussels

'Arlita / Chanson Lumineuse,' sheet music cover (c. 1925). 13 1/4x10 1/2 inches, 33 1/2x26 3/4 cm.

'Mes Rêves,' sheet music cover. 1926. 13 1/2x10 1/2 inches, 34 1/4x26 3/4 cm. Éditions Musicales de l'Art Belge, Brussels.

'Le Tango des Aveux,' sheet music cover (1926), 13 3/4x10 1/2 inches, 35x26 3/4 cm. Éditions Musicales de l'Art Belge, Brussels.

Nuits D'Adie/Fox - Trot. Sheet music cover (1925), 13 3/4x10 1/4 inches, 35x26 cm. Éditions Musicales de l'Art Belge, Brussels.

'Un Rien … (Nothing),' sheet music cover (1925). 13 3/4x10 3/4 inches, 35x27 1/4 cm. Éditions Musicales de l'Art Belge, Brussels.

For more on the delightfully obscure nooks of art history, see Secret Lives of Great Artists: What Your Teachers Never Told You About Master Painters and Sculptors.

Hyperallergic

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