This Notebook has a cover representing a Surrealist painting of Magritte representing a contradiction: Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (This is not a pipe”), but an image of a pipe. Magritte points out that no matter how naturalistically we depict an object, we never do catch the item itself. © Fondation Magritte / C. Herscovici La tricherie des images” (1929)
Magritte was a painter of ideas; a painter of visible thoughts, rather than of subjects. He valued neither lyrical nor the abstraction. He described his paintings saying, My painting is visible images which conceal nothing; they evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question, “˜What does that mean?’ It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing, it is unknowable.”
By the time Magritte moved to Paris in 1927, he painted a crude image of a pipe and labeled the painting La Pipe”. The same year, 1927, Magritte published an essay entitled Les Mots et Les Image” in which he points out by means of little sketches a number of relations between words and paintings. As a result, in his 1927 painting The Interpretation of Dreams”, Magritte began placing words in his paintings. This marks a period of about four years where he would produce over 40 paintings that used written words to provoke thought about the meaning of images and words.
For Magritte, this established one of his fundamental concepts: representation. Art is a representation of an image, but not the image itself. Thus on the canvas his famous 1929 painting of a pipe he writes Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (This is not pipe”) meaning that in fact it “just a painting of a pipe. That painting is a representation of an image but never the real image.