Magritte - Pipe

The Treachery of Images, 1928-29

I’ll be the first to admit that I know next to nothing about art. I can name at most two dozen famous artists and match their names to their famous works, and I can even bullshit a bit about symbolism, but that’s about it. But lately I’ve been reading Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction by Catherine Belsey, and I’m starting to get into the art of René Magritte in a big way.

I first came across the above image while reading Scott McCloud’s essential graphic non-fiction, Understanding Comics. That comic was my first introduction to poststructuralist thought, though I hadn’t realized it at the time. McCloud explains that the painting isn’t a pipe, it is an image of a pipe, which is a very different thing. McCloud goes on to write, “Do you hear what I’m saying? … If you do, have your ears checked because no one has said a word.”

If that sort of thinking blows your mind, or at least intrigues you a little bit, then check out these paintings by Magritte, and check out Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction. If you’re like me, a newcomer to poststructuralist thought (though you’ve undoubtedly experienced it in some form already, it’s very pervasive), then this volume is a must-read.

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