N est pas une pipe
This Is Not a Pipe by Michel FoucaultWhat does it mean to write This is not a pipe across a bluntly literal painting of a pipe? Rene Magrittes famous canvas provides the starting point for a delightful homage by French philosopher and historian Michel Foucault. Much better known for his incisive and mordant explorations of power and social exclusion, Foucault here assumes a more playful stance. By exploring the nuances and ambiguities of Magrittes visual critique of language, he finds the painter less removed than previously thought from the pioneers of modern abstraction.
Why this is not a pipe
It provoked a lot of confusion in me. Well…why on Earth is that not a pipe if what I see is indeed a pipe? At first I tried to decipher an inexistent hidden meaning trying to find camouflaged shapes that proved why that was not a pipe. Magritte was born in Belgium in He met Andre Breton, one of the founders of the surrealist movement, in Renemagritte. The general feeling among people was of uncertainty. There was optimism with the end of the war but a big depression as well for the instability it left.
The Treachery of Images is painted when Magritte was 30 years old. The picture shows a pipe. Below it, Magritte painted, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" French for "This is not a pipe. This masterpiece of Surrealism creates a three-way paradox out of the conventional notion that objects correspond to words and images. The Treachery of Images belongs to a series of word-image paintings by Magritte from the late s.
Magritte foregrounds and problematizes the way that we attribute significance to images, as well as the complicated relationship between the verbal and the visual. As Foucault, Mitchell, and Zizek have discussed, the painting challenges the "correspondence" or natural theory of the image, the idea that an image stands unambiguously for or in relation to the object which it represents or re -presents or that the image can have a stable semantic or spatial relationship with the verbal sign. Illustration 1. Ceci n'est pas une pipe ; "This is not a pipe". Oil on canvas. Magritte's painting is dominated by the image of a large pipe set against a beige background, above the declaration, written in script, Ceci n'est pas une pipe "This is not a pipe".