The Treachery of Images
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Treachery Of Images (La trahison des images 1928-29) is a painting by Belgian Surrealist painter René Magritte, famous for its inscription Ceci n'est pas une pipe, French for this is not a pipe. The picture shows a pipe that looks as though it might come from a tobacco store advertisement. Magritte painted below the pipe: "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" (This is not a pipe), which seems a contradiction but is actually true. The painting is not a pipe, but rather an image of a pipe. As Magritte himself commented:
The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it's just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture "This is a pipe," I'd have been lying!
The theme of pipes with the text "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" is extended in his 1966 painting, Les Deux Mystères.
Literary and cultural comment
Scott McCloud uses this painting as an introduction to the second chapter of his book Understanding Comics. McCloud points out that not only is the version that appears in his book not a pipe, it is actually several printed copies of a drawing of a painting of a pipe.
In popular culture
Countless other works of art or entertainment have made use of the phrase "Ceci n'est pas...", a translation, or a variation on the concept of the difference between an object and its image (or symbol), one example being The Simpsons couch gag for the season nineteen episode "That 90's Show" where The Simpsons are seated on the couch with the caption, "Ceci n'est pas une couch gag".
- Map-territory relation
- Representative realism
- Simulacra and Simulation