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in art, a kind of visual trickery in which painted forms seem to be real. It is sometimes called trompe l'oeil [Fr.,=fool the eye]. The development of one-point perspectiveperspective,
in art, any method employed to represent three-dimensional space on a flat surface or in relief sculpture. Although many periods in art showed some progressive diminution of objects seen in depth, linear perspective, in the modern sense, was probably first
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 in the Renaissance advanced illusionist technique immeasurably. It was highly developed in the baroque period; Caravaggio's bowls of fruit included insects to enhance verisimilitude. American masters of trompe l'oeil include William M. HarnettHarnett, William Michael
, 1848–92, American painter, b. Ireland. He emigrated to Philadelphia as a child; he first learned engraving and then studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and at the National Academy of Design and Cooper Union.
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 and John F. PetoPeto, John F.
, 1854–1907, American painter, b. Philadelphia. Largely self-taught, Peto worked in the exacting style of trompe l'oeil illusionism perfected by William Harnett.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



imitation of the visible world in works of visual art; the creation of an impression of really existing objects and space.

Illusionism presupposes the visual effacement of the barrier between the conventional world of representation and actuality and their overlapping active interaction. It calls for the visual substitution or seeming destruction of the material substance (of which the work itself consists)—the flatness of the wall or the painting. Illusionism first appeared in the paintings of antiquity, played a noticeable role in Renaissance art, and became one of the main principles of monumental decorative baroque art (in baroque interiors the concrete architectural space merges with the illusory painted space that stretches into infinity). Illusionism is also seen in easel works—for example, in oil paintings, more rarely in graphics like the black and white “trick” still lifes of the 18th century and in F. P. Tolstoi’s watercolors in Russia.



a circus and variety art based on the use of such stage props as boxes with false bottoms and optical devices and on sleight of hand. The magician makes people and things appear and disappear and creates “magical transformations.” The art of illusionism is based essentially on optical illusion.

Conjuring began in antiquity, when priests created illusions. In the 17th and 18th centuries technicians performed “wonders,” based on mechanical devices, at fairs. In the 19th century H. Houdini performed in Paris and developed many of the principles of magic in use today. Twentieth-century magicians stage revues with difficult stunts and illusions, comic effects, and a more theatrical flavor.

Among the best-known magicians abroad are G. Pinetti and B. Bosco (Italy); R. Kefalo, Dante, and Taft (USA); A. and K. Herman (Germany); P. Ch. Sorkar (India); J.-E. Robert-Houdin (France); and Kalanag (Federal Republic of Germany).

Well-known Soviet magicians include E. T. Kio (Renard) and his sons, E. E. and I. E. Kio, Alli-Vad (A. A. Vadimov-Mar-kelov), Kleo Doreotti (K. G. Karasik), M. A. Marches, A. S. Shag, Van Tentau, and A. G. and R. M. Sokol.


Kio. Fokusy i fokusniki. Moscow, 1958.
Kio. Illiuzionisty i “volshebniki.” Moscow, 1959.
Vadimov, A. Iskusstvo fokusa. Moscow, 1959.
Vadimov, A. A., and A. A. Trivas. Ot magov drevnosti do illiuzionistov nashikh dnei: Ocherki istorii illiuzionnogo iskusstva. [Moscow, 1966.]


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The spectacular backdrops, painted to recede to a vanishing point, (4) the wings that framed these backdrops, and the borders painted with cloudlets or ceilings and cornices that made up the experience of the perspectival scenery became a site for theatrical illusionism in Parsi theatre.
The nine chronologically arranged chapters address the ways in which cloud machinery and the theatrical heaven informed the painted formations of cloud illusionism from the early fifteenth century and through the middle of the seventeenth century.
It is in Chapter Three ('Genre: the Realism of Fantasy, the Fantasy of Realism') that Burwick turns his full attention to the theatrics of illusionism, exploring defining distinctions between mimetic and meontic strategies, carefully elucidating the terms.
Pallavicino's writings articulate core religious questions regarding art in connection with faith, idolatry, and illusionism and stand in strong contrast to Bernini's perspectives.
In Chapter 4 of his monumental study of "new media", Lev Manovich takes up the question of realism in computer generated imaging, noting that after the 20th century art world's rejection of the pursuit of illusionism:
When Aleksandra Mokranjac, the author of Illusionism, decided to study architecture, it was as if she had decided to devote herself to architecture both as a science and an art--a wholly unique art of dealing with time, or to be more precise, with Chronos.
She traces how the increasing commodification of reality took the form of "the escalating abstraction of the economy and the progressive illusionism in visual culture," which in turn led to "an increasing suspension of disbelief bordering on the gullible" (238).
SOPHY Rickett's minimal, detached and largely monochrome work defies the principles of three-dimensional illusionism that we so readily associate with the photographic image.
The use of thread in imitation of pencil drawing links many of the exhibits, and reaches an extreme of illusionism in Andrea Cryer's KATH, a pair of portraits of the same women in youth and old age, where you really do have to look closely to convince yourself that this is a textile picture.
He took the view that the theatre director should shape all aspects of the production by identifying a play's core thematic idea in relation to contemporary social and political contexts, and radically reshaped theatrical space by abandoning the conventions of Naturalism and illusionism in favour of representational abstraction.
"Derren Brown is the leading man in his field, but that field is illusionism - and that tells its own story," said Stevens.
Ultimately, it seems, Aboriginal artists just aren't doing the real thing, the stuff that you can judge, namely three-dimensional illusionism. They wouldn't know much about that; their art is easy and anyone can do it.