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Rene Magritte "Pipe"

Rene Magritte "Pipe"

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From: Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Limited Edition: 75
Exhibition: Magritte and Contemporary Art: The Treachery of Images
Material: Printed 2-ply vinyl
Dimensions: 35" x 96" (88cm x 243cm)

Hanging Hardware Included


The exhibition "Magritte and Contemporary Art: The Treachery of Images" offered up great works by the Belgian artist in an environment designed to make LACMA visitors part of Magritte's surreal world. It is from one of Magritte's iconic works, "The Treachery of Images (This is not a pipe)" that the show took its name. And it is this image that is featured on banners from the exhibition. The simple, cleanly rendered brown pipe has become synonymous with surrealism and the work of René Magritte. Enlarged on these banners, it brings wit, whimsy, and drama to the real world.


The work of René Magritte offers up a playful surface with a jab at the mundanity of everyday life. His precise technique and unexpected imagery are a powerful blend, and his works not only mock life’s trivialities but also delve into its darker aspects. Whether he was actively sending a message or merely engaging in his own escapist visions, his works remaining provocative and memorable for viewers to this day.

During the 1920s, Magritte began to explore the relationship between objects and their names. He felt that language was often completely arbitrary and had nothing to do with any real reason for an object’s given name. By combining words and imagery, he exploited this disconnect with paintings that sought to refute their validity. This is the case with his famous work The Treachery of Images (This is not a pipe) painted in 1929. The work shows a simple, beautifully painted pipe with the words “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (This is not a pipe) below it. This seemingly straightforward use of an image and words that negate its given name makes for a complex relationship for the viewer. There is a slight discomfort that comes when the obvious and expected is so blatantly flipped on its head. It also calls into question the very nature of art. For centuries artists sought to depict an object with the viewer agreeing to accept the facsimile as the real thing. Here, the artist himself announces that the gig is up – this is not a pipe, it is a painting of a pipe.

It is this iconic modernist work of Magritte’s that is featured on this banner. On a sky blue background, Magritte’s simple pipe floats. Below the image at the very bottom of the banner, small brown text reads “experience art lacma”. The other side of the banner is brown with white and sky blue letters announcing the exhibition’s title and dates ”Magritte/and Contemporary Art/Nov. 19, 2006 – Mar. 4, 2007”.


These banners were displayed around Los Angeles from November 19, 2006 through March 4, 2007 to promote the exhibition, Magritte and Contemporary Art: The Treachery of Images at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

About the Artist

Learn more about René Magritte

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