The artist plays on the fact that everybody will always be asking about what they can't see, what is unknown to them. It is the viewer's curiosity then, that makes the painting what it is.
The painting shows the back of a darkly dressed character, looking into what appears to be a mirror. The viewer then, will automatically look for the man's reflection in order to see his face and what he looks like.
It is perhaps frustrating then to see, that there is no reflection, instead, the mirror shows the back of the mans head again which leaves the viewer puzzled as to why the mans face is not shown, hence creating some intrigue, questions and discussion around the piece.
Not to be Reproduced was published around 1937 and currently sits in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. The painting is considered to be a portrait of a poet who was at the time one of Magritte's acquaintances and friends. However, this throws more questions as to why only the back of his head is portrayed.
One such curiosity about the piece is that the book on the mantlepiece is correctly reflected and it is only a human that the mirror shows the back of the head of the gentleman in the picture.
The idea behind it is to scare and bewilder the audience, making them take a double glance as they realise the painting is not all it seems. Coupled with the monotone, dull and almost sinister colours used, this creates something that scares the audience and is what makes the piece so interesting to look at, this is common in many of Rene Magrittes pieces of work.
Another talking point is the choice of book that is placed on the mantlepiece. The book is believed to be a story by Edgar Allan Poe; The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, which is written in French in the picture: Les aventures d'Arthur Gordon Pym. Edgar Allan Poe was one of the artists favourite authors and this had been made known before the release of this piece.
It is perhaps relevant that Edgar Allan Poe actually endeavoured to produce a similar impact to the reader with his stories, as Magritte did with his paintings. The author also looked to cause mystery and provoke discussion to the stories he wrote and left the reader questioning his prose, just as Magritte has done here with this painting.
The specific book itself is also a book that tries to convince the reader that the narrator is a real person, which perhaps bears some relevance and significance into the painting, is the man in the mirror trying to convince himself he is a real person?
Rene Magritte is a Belgian surrealist artists that was born just short of the 20th century in 1898. His paintings always have an element of uncertainty and some mystery hidden within them and they are heavily scrutinised by many critics to explore whether or not there is any real hidden meaning in them.
The artist has received critical acclaim across the globe for many of his works and they are always sure to spark intrigue and discussion around each and every one of his works.
The artist is said to take inspiration from Picasso and a cubism style was adopted because this is what was popular at that time. He first starting publishing his works in his own surrealist style in around 1926 when he was in his late 20s.