The Museum of Illusions
Optical Tricks in Art
Traveling back and forth across generations and movements, this engrossing book looks at the myriad ways artists fool their audiences.
The art of optical illusion has been an integral part of painting since antiquity, when it was used as a yardstick by which to judge an artist’s level of mastery. In the centuries that followed, and continuing through contemporary times, artists from Van Eyck to Gerhard Richter have delighted in “tricking the eye.” That practice has extended to outdoor spaces with the likes of Banksy and Cayetano Ferrer. This book presents a fascinating overview of the different methods of illusion practiced by artists over hundreds of years. Organized into five chapters—"Optical Illusions," "Distortions and Hidden Images," "De-Figurations," "Questioning Perception," and "Overstepping Reality"—it brings together artists from various time periods and disciplines. Dozens of illustrated examples offer intriguing comparisons of works by Magritte and Li Wei, Cindy Sherman and Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Michelangelo and Duane Hanson, and many more. Readers will come away with an understanding of how artists perceive our world, and how their reflections and distortions are at once confusing and enlightening.