Monday, December 10, 2007

Rene Magritte: The Treachery of Images

The Treachery of Images. 1928-9. Oil on canvas. h60xw81cm. h23 5/8 x w31 7/8
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA

Magritte appears to contradict reality by nonsensically naming something that does not need to be named, at the same time as denying that it is what it obviously is. By writing 'This is not a pipe'beneath the picture of one, he illustrates that the image of an object must not be confused with something tangible and real. One of Magritte's most famous images, the painting questions the concepts of definition and representation. All is not as it appears to be, Magritte is saying; the picture this presents a challenge to ordered society and an assault on the accepted way in which people see and think. Initially inspired by Giorgio de Chirico, Magritte's Surrealist paintings often use fantastic, disturbing and dream-like images, such as a steam train emerging from the centre of a fireplace, or a sky in which the clouds have turned into French loaves. Born in Belgium, Magritte begin his career as a commercial artist, and this may be reflected in the sharpness and clarity of his work.

The Art Book (pg. 292). New York: Phaidon Press Inc.

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