treason of images (review)

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art analysis of rene magrittes treason of images. its justokayy

Submitted: August 27, 2008

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Submitted: August 27, 2008

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The Treason of Images

Have you ever stood in an art gallery wondering about a certain art piece. What could this artist have possibly been thinking? What relative concept are they trying to convey? In 1929, Rene Magritte's new art work, The Treason of Images, confronts the art community with an interesting new way of thinking. The painting depicts a mass produced pipe and the word under it read," this is not a pipe." Initially the painting was not taken well. With the art community's roots in portraiture and naturalistic landscapes, it was simply taken as blasphemous and tasteless. Although Rene Magritte's wild new concepts were not kindly in the beginning they would eventual find their niche in the art community and would pave the way for many other dynamic thinkers to come.
Rene Magritte's painting came at an interesting point in history. It was the end of the industrial revolution and there was a hunger for new direction. A sense of, "out with the old in with the new" was set in order.  At the time when Classical techniques were being exhausted, a new higher development of thinking was in the works involving perception, interpretation, and abstract concepts. Unfortunately these new ideas at hand had some opposition in the art community.
Many traditionalists and art critics had trouble grasping the new age concepts of Magritte's' work. The artwork was taken with dismay and the public seemed unsure of what was being expressed. The fact that the object was an unobjectionable pipe with the words contradicting that belief made if even harder to understand when at the time realistic depiction was the ideal aesthetics of the era. Yet for the few who saw the value of his thought provoking imagery, they believed this was the breath of fresh air they had been looking towards. The revitalization of the art community was here.
When the viewer peers past the image of Magritte's works it becomes evident that they are dealing with symbolism. The first thing you may take away from this painting is that symbols are universal; meaning a pipe is a pipe no matter where you're from. Second you'll notice that the language of the wording only applies to a language speaker, so in a sense the art piece is only a contradiction in terms of some language speakers' opinion.
Another noticeable aspect of this painting is the interpretation of the symbol itself. The image of a pipe is only a pipe because of what we have come to know it as in our immediate reality, in the context of our culture. If another dimension of what we interpret as reality may exist, then the symbol of a pipe may in fact not be a pipe at all. This idea opens up a whole new world of interpretation of ideas symbolism language and perspective. It is evident that this abstract way of thinking let to such sub genres as abstract art and cubism.
In essence, art is not always immediately understood whether it's  our uncertainty of the unknown or a simple satisfaction with what has already been established. One thing is for certain, without brave pioneers like Matisse in the art community pushing the envelope on what is considered relatively aesthetic, art would have a much less than it is now. Today, The Treason of Images stands out in art history as a stepping stone between traditional and modernist ideas.


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