Magritte's Friends and Close Associates: Irene Hamoir & Louis Scutenaire
Biography Translated by R. Matteson
Irene Hamoir (1906-1994), poetess and novelist, is the central female figure of the surrealist movement in Belgium. She married Louis Scutenaire, and appears under the name of “Lorrie” in her inscriptions. She was featured in the drawings and a portrait painting by Rene Magritte.
Rene Magritte: Portrait of Irene Hamoir
Irene Hamoir was born the July 25th 1906 in Saint-Gilles (Brussels). Her father Léopold Hamoir was a hatter. Her paternal grandmother, unmarried, had two children with Léopold Noiset, racing cyclist, manufacturer of motorcycles, and driver for the Swift-club of Brussels. Around 1890 the children and Leopold teamed up to form a motorcyle and car act named “Nice Noazetts.” Later when the children were older they became “The Noisets,” international sensations. They specialized in spectacular motorcycles and cars acts called “The Infernal Tank," “The Table of the Devil,” and “The Leap of Death.” Irene Hamoir memorialized the antics of her uncles in her collection of stories, "The Infernal Tank" written between 1932 and 1939, then in an article published in 1949 in the illustrated magazine, Evening.
After attending busines school in 1922 Irene Hamoir became the secretary of a tannery-dyeing company. Militant socialist, she took part in many socialist meetings around 1924. When she approached Camille Huysmans in 1925 with her first poem, she met the painter Marc Eemans, who became her first serious relationship. After collaborating in the review, Distances, which brought together the surrealist group of Brussels, in 1928 Irene Hamoir met Louis Scutenaire at Marcel Lecomte's house. In 1929 she became secretary for the Economic and Financial Agency of Brussels, while Scutenaire continued writing poetic letters to her daily. She married him in 1930 and, after a voyage to Paris and in Spain, they settled at Alfalfa Street where he lived with his mother.
In 1931 Irene Hamoir began her career as a civil servant at the International Court of justice, travelling between Geneva and the Hague where Scutenaire sometimes came to join her. Soon she became a civil servant for the court in Brussels. Irene and Louis attended the meetings of the surrealist group in Brussels, with Paul Nougé, the brothers Magritte, the musician Andre Souris, Marcel Lecomte, E.L.T. Mesens, Paul Colinet, Marcel Mariën. They also were part of the Paris surreaist group.
Irene Hamoir atended the 1935 International exhibition of surrealism in Louvière. The next year Rene Magritte painted her portrait. "The beauty broke its odd sheath, gave pinks to the fountains" wrote Hamoir. In August 1937 Scutenaire remained in Céreste (Provence) at Rene Char while she found work in the Hague until November and the realtionship with “Scut” became strained. In 1939 Irene Hamoir left her post of civil servant, contributing two numbers to the review, The Collective Invention (with a photograph of Raoul Ubac).
Irene Hamoir and Scutenaire left Brussels in May 1940 with Magritte, Agui and Raoul Ubac. Being separated in Paris, they are finally reached Carcassonne where they meet Joe Bousquet, Jean Paulhan, André Gide, Gaston Gallimard. After a stop in Nice, they returned to Brussels in October where Hamoir found work in 1941 at the National Bank of Belgium. From 1942 to 1945 she was the director of the sales for the Belgian Chemical Union. Her collection of writings, The Infernal Tank, appeared in 1944 and she began drafting of the newspaper, the Evening. Irene Hamoir contributed in 1945 to the magazine reviews "Public Safety," "The Blue Sky" and "The Earth is Not a Vale of Tears" featuring Marcel Mariën's photos. She published poems in 1946 in the Two Sisters that Christian Dotremont published, the second poem, an “exquisite corpse” was signed by her, Rene Char, Paul Éluard and Scutenaire. She also contributed to "To know To Live" by Magritte.
Under the name of “Irene” she published in 1949 a collection of sound poems. Irene Hamoir collaborated in the following years with several other reviews, particularly the 1953 "Mixed Temps," created by André Blavier and Jane Graverol. The same year she published her novel "Boulevard Jacqmain," in which the members of the Belgian surrealist group appear under nicknames, Nouguier for Paul Nougé, Gritto for Rene Magritte, Maître Bridge for Scutenaire, Edouard Massens for E.L.T. Mesens, Bergère for Georgette Magritte, Marquis for Paul Magritte, Sourire for Andre Souris, Mr. Marcel for Lecomte, Evrard for Geert Van Bruane, and Crépue for her. In 1955 Irene Hamoir started to write features for the Petite Gazette. She wrote for the last issues of Evening, tributed to Gerald Van Bruane in 1964, and Marcel Lecomte in 1966, before retiring.
Irene Hamoir published several plates of poems in 1971, 1972 and 1975. In the same decade she and Louis Scutenaire wrote about their experiences with their painter friends Roland Delcol, Tom Gutt, Yves Bossut, Claudine Jamagne, Rachel Bases, Robert Willems, and Roger Van de Wouwer. About 1976 she contributed regularly to the review, the Vocative, published by Tom Gutt and contributed to Isy Brachot her poetic works Corne of Brown. In 1982 Irene Hamoir and Scutenaire wrote “Her and Him,” a foreword for the retrospective Rene Magritte and surrealism in Belgium. After the death of Scutenaire in 1987, some of their correspondences with Andre Bosmans, Paul Nougé, and Marcel Mariën, are published in the review, the Naked Lips. In 1992 she wrote for Croquis, which gathered her chronicles for the review, Evening. She died in Brussels the May 17th, 1994.
In the retrospective “Irene Scutenaire-Hamoir” organized by Tom Gutt executor with the Royal Museum of Modern Art in Brussels (Royal Musées of the Art schools of Belgium) appeared many works of the painter Magritte (more than one score of paintings, a score of gouaches, forty drawings, etc) which were hanging on the walls of their house on Alfalfa street including: Portrait of Nougé (1927); the Robber (1927); Discovered (1927); Man Meditating On Madness (1928); Portrait of Irene Hamoir (1936); Defense of Reading (1936); Belle Canto (1938); The Great Hopes (1940); The Fifth Season (1943); The Smile (1943); The Harvest (1943); Good Omens (1945); Natural Meetings (1945); Thousand and One Nights (1946); the Intelligence (1946); Lyricism (1947); Lola de Valence (1948). The paintings are now located at Royal Museums of the Art School of Belgium.
Louis Scutenaire (Ollignies, the June 29th 1905 - Brussels, the August 15th 1987) was a writer and surrealist Belgian poet.
Louis Scutenaire (Jean Emile Louis Scutenaire) was born in Belgium (Hainaut), in Ollignies, close to Lessines, the June 29th 1905. In 1916 he began writing his first poems. From 1918 he attended various schools from which he is regularly made exclude. In 1919 he got pleurisy that immobilized him for several years. He engaged in medical studies in 1924.
In 1926 Scutenaire met Paul Nougé to whom he forwarded his poems, then Camille Goemans, Rene Magritte, E.L.T. Mesens. He started to collaborate in the publications of the surrealist Belgians. In 1928 he met Irene Hamoir (Irine) which he married in 1930. He obtained his diploma for the occupation of doctor in right he carried out training courses, studying especially with penal and being interested especially in the lunatics, nomads and “bad lots”. Scutenaire and Irene Hamoir go then regularly to Paris where they frequently meet André Breton, Paul Éluard, Benjamin Péret, Rene Char, Marcel Duchamp, Picasso, Brauner, Ernst, Miro, Oscar Dominguez. In 1937 they remain at Rene Char with Céreste (Provence).
In May 1940 Scutenaire leave Brussels towards Paris and Bordeaux, joins Magritte and Raoul Ubac with Carcassonne, meets Joe Bousquet, Jean Paulhan, André Gide, regains Brussels in October. Scutenaire enters in 1941 to the ministry for the Interior, will be named adviser-assistant (until 1970). It is in May 1943 that it starts to note its inscriptions whose first volume is published in 1945 on proposal of Éluard, with the support of Paulhan and Queneau. A second must follow but the editor asking for the suppression of two or three reflections considered to be too free, Scutenaire refuses there. In 1948 it accompanies by a foreword the exposure to Paris of paintings not less scandalous of the " period vache" of Magritte.
As from the Fifties Louis Scutenaire collaborates in many reviews, the Chart according to nature , (animated in Brussels by Magritte), mixed Times (of André Blavier, with Verviers), the naked Lips (Marcel Mariën), Rhétorique (devoted to Magritte by André Bosmans), Phantomas , then the Vocative (Tom Gutt), and written many forewords (Magritte, Jean Raine, Roland Delcol).
The second volume of My Inscriptions is published in 1976, thanks to Tom Gutt and Isy Brachot. Three others will follow.
Louis Scutenaire (who signs and is done familiarly called " Scut") the August 15th 1987 dies whereas it on television looks at a film on his friend Magritte.
In the legacy " Irene Scutenaire-Hamoir" , whose Tom Gutt is the executor, in the royal Musées of the Art schools of Belgium appear many works of the painter (more than one score of paintings, a score of gouaches, forty drawings, etc) which were with the walls of their house of the street of the Alfalfa, in particular: in particular: Portrait of Nougé , 1927; the Robber , 1927; Discovered , 1927; Character meditating on the madness , 1928; Portrait of Irene Hamoir , 1936; defended Reading , 1936; Beautiful Canto , 1938; the Great hopes , 1940; the Fifth season , 1943; the Smile , 1943; the Harvest , 1943; Good fortune , 1945; natural Meetings , 1945; Thousand and One Nights , 1946; the Intelligence , 1946; Lyricism , 1947; Lola de Valence , 1948 (whose images are visible on the site of the royal Museums of the Art schools of Belgium). Similarly the library of Scutenaire, which included/understood thousands of books often very rare, was bequeathed to the royal Bibliothèque of Belgium.
Louis Scutenaire was selected like one of the Hundred Walloons of the century, by the Institut Jules Destrée, in 1995.