His Most Famous Painting (The Treachery of Images) Rene Magritte

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Belgian artist Rene Magritte (1898-1967) was a 'Surrealist,' who was known for his unconventional ideas and depictions. Magritte often painted arbitrarily, picking general everyday use objects as subjects and painting them in obscure settings. He liked to choose puzzling themes with underlying ideas to invoke curiosity and to intrigue the human mind. One of Rene's most prominent and celebrated contributions to art is "The Treachery of Images (La trahison des images)," a 63.5 cm x 93.98 cm (25 "x 37") sized oil painting, created during 1928-29. Its inscription, "This is not a Pipe (Ceci n'est pas une pipe)," is the most striking part.

At first glance, "The Treachery of Images" looks like an advertisement of a tobacco product or store. The painting may not be extraordinary, but the philosophy behind its creation is, and that makes it truly incomparable. The painting, inscribed with "Ceci n'est pas une pipe," simply depicts a smoking pipe on a peach pale neutral background. The source of light bouncing off its surface is unknown, is obvious however, due to the gleam. The colors used are wood brown and black. The texturing given to the pipe and the colors chosen are quite similar to the natural look of a pipe.

The placement of the pipe in Magritte's "The Treachery of Images" seems slightly odd, as it appears to be hanging in mid air. There seems to be no correlation between the pipe and its background. At the bottom of this painting, Magritte wrote 'Ceci n'est pas une pipe' in French, which means 'this is not a pipe.' He even signed his last name on the lower right corner of the painting. When Rene was reproached about the inscription, 'this is not a pipe,' he wittily replied, "If it were a pipe, they should try to fill it with tobacco." The statement below the pipe is paradoxical, yet actually true, since the painting is merely an image of a pipe and not the 'object' pipe. The text below the picture forces a viewer to reassess of what is observed at the first glance.

With "The Treachery of Images" Magritte questions, the inherent tendency of the human mind to habitually label everything we see, overlooking the need to find a deeper meaning. Magritte presents a very simple example to convey how our perceptions and the habitual use of language can falsely manipulate our thinking. "The Treachery of Images" was a powerful work with which Rene Magritte challenges the common norms of communication and interpretation. It was a great influence on many conceptual artists. The painting with "Ceci n'est pas une pipe," now rests at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California.

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Source by Annette Labedzki

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