René Magritte, 1898-1967

René Magritte,  The Treachery of Images,  1929

René Magritte, The Treachery of Images, 1929

By Riley Wilber

Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist
— René Magritte

René François Ghislain Magritte, born November 21st, 1898, is renowned for his witty and intriguing paintings. A champion of Surrealism, he disregarded conventional ways of representing the world through art. He once said of the genre; ‘To be a surrealist […] means barring from your mind all remembrance of what you have seen and being always on the lookout for what has never been.’ His style evokes this mentality especially in his “word paintings.” Magritte invited his audience to think about visual representation. An example of this can be found in perhaps one of his most famous paintings, The Treachery of Images.  On the canvas is an image of a pipe, below which are the words “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” which translates in English to “This is not a pipe”.  Currently on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, this is indeed not a pipe, but a representation of a pipe: a crucial and very Surrealist distinction. 

In reference to his “Sens propre” series, Magritte published an article titled “Les Mots et Les Images” ("The Words and the Images") in La Révolution Surréaliste as an overview of the relationship between images, words, and reality. He states, ‘A word may take the place of an object in reality… An object never performs the same function as its name or its image.’ Magritte utilises a straightforward technique exposing truth in his illogical scenes. Unlike many other Surrealists, Magritte’s work did not involve automatism, the dream world, or accidental effects; rather, his paintings were planned and deliberately thought-provoking.




Magritte, Reńe as found in “Quotes by Rene Magritte”, Art Quotes <>.

“Surrealism”, Tate, <>

“Rene Magritte: Le Miroir magique [The Magic Mirror]”, < >

Calvovoressi, Richard, Magritte (Oxford, 1984).