‘This Is Not a Street’: Brussels Gets a Very Surreal Street Name in Honor of Magritte

One of René Magritte’s best-known works will be commemorated as a street name in Brussels—with a suitably Surrealist twist. Called Ceci n’est pas une rue (This is not a street) the new self-negating street name refers to the Belgian artist’s signature painting The Treachery of Images, which famously states “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (This is not a pipe) under an image of a tobacco pipe. The tongue-in-cheek gesture is sure to be a tourist draw to the developing area—even if it leads to a few lost taxicabs.

Belgian citizens were given the chance to name 28 streets, alleys, squares, and walkways around the industrial zone of Tour & Taxis, where the fair Art Brussels is held annually in spring. Winning names were selected from nearly 1,400 suggestions from the public.

Near Magritte’s new street, there will be a thoroughfare named after the pioneer filmmaker Chantal Akerman. The late Belgian director’s acclaimed 1975 work, the feminist art house film Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, was set in the Belgian capital.

The area is currently being redeveloped into a luxurious residential area, so people wanting selfies alongside the Magritte-inspired street sign and Chantal Ackerman’s will have to wait. In fact, the public may not be able to access them at all, as most of the curiously named streets are going to be areas with private access only. Larger streets that lead to the site—including Better World Street and Happiness Street—will be open to the public.

Art Brussels 2018 was held at Tour & Taxis. Photo by David Plas.

Magritte created his famous painting in 1929, completing it just two years after his first exhibition in Brussels when he was 30 years old. Perhaps his most instantly recognizable work, The Treachery of Images is currently on display at LACMA and is part of their collection. Brussels’s Magritte Museum, which opened in 2009, boasts around 230 works on display by the Belgian artist.

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