Magritte’s best known work by far is of course his drawing of a pipe with the text Ceci n’est pas une pipe. He made several versions over the years, but the work originated in 1928 or 1929. The title Magritte gave to this painting is La trahison des images — the treachery of images.
Less well known is the fact that in the same year, Magritte published an intriguing article in the surrealist journal La révolution surréaliste, entitled Les mots et les images. This article shows that the phenomenon so playfully taken up in La trahison des images was only one element of a larger set of problems in verbal and visual representation occupying Magritte.1 Here’s the first page:
Magritte’s article offers 18 panels dealing with different aspects of the relation between words, images, and reality. As a succinct overview, it is extremely effective. I have used it in my own work to clarify the distinction between depiction and description.
While Magritte’s 18 sketches have been reproduced in several places, the original is somewhat hard to find. Which is why I’m sharing it here. Use the JPG versions below, or download the PDF here. Enjoy!
- By the way: don’t confuse this brief article with a reissue of some of Magritte’s work published under the same title in 1994. [↩]