Los Angeles County Museum of Art  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

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: "Just try to stuff it with tobacco! If I were to have had written on my picture 'This is a pipe' I would have been lying."

The truth of the painting depends entirely on what the word "ceci" (in English, "this") is taken to refer to. Is it the pipe depicted—or is it the painting or even the sentence itself?

Magritte extends the style and effect in his 1930 painting, The Key of Dreams.

In his book, This Is Not a Pipe, French critic Michel Foucault discusses the painting and its paradox.)

It is currently housed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in Los Angeles, California and was previously housed at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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