BBC – Culture – Magritte and the subversive power of his pipe By Cath Pound, 5 December 2017
Editor’s note: old news
René Magritte’s The Treachery of Images (This is Not a Pipe) is one of the most famous yet persistently enigmatic works in the history of art. One of the word-image series of paintings in which the Belgian artist sought to challenge linguistic and visual conventions, it was also part of his life-long quest to show that images could be equal to words in the expression of consciousness.
The iconic painting is returning to its country of origin for the first time in 45 years as part of a major exhibition at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium examining Magritte’s influence on contemporary artists from Jasper Johns to Gavin Turk, giving us a fresh opportunity to attempt to define the indefinable.
In his famous essay on The Treachery of Images, the philosopher Michel Foucault refers to the artwork as an “unravelled calligram”, a calligram being an image formed of the words which describe it, which Magritte had “unravelled” by separating the image from the text.
Although Magritte disagreed with this definition, he certainly believed that an image was as capable of expressing thought as poetry. As Draguet says, for Magritte poetry was “beyond the word; something deeper than the word”.