What does it mean to write "This is not a pipe" across a bluntly literal painting of a pipe? René Magritte's famous canvas provides the starting point for a delightful homage by French philosopher and historian Michel Foucault. Much better known for his incisive and mordant explorations of power and social exclusion, Foucault here assumes a more playful stance. By exploring the nuances and ambiguities of Magritte's visual critique of language, he finds the painter less removed than previously thought from the pioneers of modern abstraction.
One of the most important theorists of the twentieth century, Michel Foucault's (1926-1984) many influential books include Discipline and Punish, The Archeology of Knowledge, The History of Sexuality, and The Discourse on Language.