Broodthaers was a Belgian poet and artist who had a lifelong fascination with the work of the Belgian Surrealist, René Magritte. He was particularly interested in those works where Magritte introduced written words to contradict a visual image, and made a number of paintings and prints based on this idea. Such works question the relationship between art and the reality it depicts. This is one of a large series of works each consisting of nine panels and referring to various areas of culture. Here sixteen words refer to traditional paintings, listing for example, 'style', 'subject', 'colour' in French. The way the words are combined in each canvas represents a different painting.