René Magritte, The Treachery of Images (This is Not a Pipe), 1929, Oil on canvas, 23 3/4 x 31 15/16 in., LACMA, California, Photo by profzucker via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.

René Magritte on Treacherous Images

Belgian artist René Magritte created this Surrealist masterpiece that presents a realistic image of a pipe and written in French below, the words, “This is not a pipe.”  With this humorous inscription, Magritte stated something that is true but nevertheless not obvious and quite jarring.

Of course – that is not a pipe, but rather picture of a pipe.

With this, Magritte draws attention to the often conflicting and paradoxical messages we receive from images.  His experience as a commercial artist was helpful for the objects in his paintings are often realistic in appearance, but the whole is always a riddle or a puzzle because his art investigates the fact that words, images and objects could never be reconciled.