Michel Foucault invokes Andy Warhol at the conclusion of This is Not a Pipe; this comes at the end of a chapter entitled 'Seven Seals of Affirmation,' so that the words must be read with a Nietzschean resonance (recalling Zarathustra's 'The Seven Seals'):

A day will come when, by means of similitude relayed indefinitely along the length of a series, the image itself, along with the name it bears, will lose its identity. Campbell, Campbell, Campbell, Campbell.

I propose to explore the approach to the visual here which proceeds by deploying or presupposing conceptions of similitude, simulacrum, eternal recurrence and affirmation that are variations on thoughts of Nietzsche and Gilles Deleuze. In doing so I will read Foucault's essay on Magritte as an instance of ekphrasis, that is as a verbal text which aims at describing, simulating or evoking a visual work of art. What will be unusual about this variation on the ancient genre of ekphrasis will be Foucault's claim that Magritte's painting already speaks; the consequence is a significant complication in the task of the writer on art.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publisher Statement

Copyright © 1997 Taylor & Francis. This article first appeared in Word & Image 13, no. 1 (January 1997): 69-76. doi:10.1080/02666286.1997.10434268.

Please note that downloads of the article are for private/personal use only.