The question of language in René Magritte’s aesthetics


René Magritte
Michel Foucault


Throughout the present paper, I propose an analysis of René Magritte’s artwork Les mots et les images (La Révolution surréaliste, 1929) in connection with a reflection on the associated theories he formulated in the handout for his London lecture (1937). Read in reference to selected writings (and in erratic observation with other artworks of his oeuvre), the eighteen propositions of Les mots et les images, along with their development in the 1937 document, might help at investigating the aesthetic principles that guide and characterise Magritte’s reflection around language. In this same regard, in the last part of my article I will focus on Michel Foucault’s Ceci n’est pas une pipe (1973) and, particularly, on the distinction between resemblance (ressemblance) and similitude (similitude). These last remarks, I argue, offer the opportunity not only to think about the way in which images and words are related to each other in Magritte’s works, but also to inves- tigate the vital issue of language, which has occupied a crucial place within French thought.