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Rene Magritte
The Treachery of Images (This is Not a Pipe) (La trahison des images [Ceci nest pas une pipe])
Oil on canvas

23 3/4 x 31 15/16 x 1 inches
Currently on public view: Ahmanson Building, floor 2, LACMA

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Excerpt from LACMA:

Curator Notes

La Trahison des images (Ceci nest pas une pipe) (The Treachery of images [This is not a pipe]) is one of Rene Magritte’s Surrealist masterpieces and an icon of modern art. Heavily influenced by Freudian psychology, Surrealism represented a reaction against the "Rationalism" that some believed led Europe into the horrors of World War I. It attempted to join the realm of dreams and fantasy to the everyday world. Magritte’s word-image paintings are treatises on the impossibility of reconciling words, images, and objects. La Trahison des images challenges the linguistic convention of identifying an image of something as the thing itself. At first, Magritte’s point appears simplistic, almost to the point of provocation: A painting of a pipe is not the pipe itself. In fact, this work is highly paradoxical. Its realistic style and caption format recall advertising, a field in which Magritte had worked. Advertisements, however, elicit recognition without hesitation or equivocation this painting causes the viewer to ponder its conflicting messages. Magritte’s use of text in his word-image paintings influenced a younger generation of conceptually oriented artists, including Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Edward Ruscha, and Andy Warhol.


    Lash, Miranda. Photorealism: Beginnings to Today: The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Collection. New York: Scala Art Publishers New Orleans: New Orleans Museum of Art, 2014.

    Arnason, H.H., and Marla F. Prather. History of Modern Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Photography. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1998.


Currently on public view:
Ahmanson Building, floor 2, LACMA

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