Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.


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
..... Click the link for more information.
 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.
..... Click the link for more information.
 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.
..... Click the link for more information.



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.]


References in periodicals archive ?
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.
If our aim is to present the novel Illusionism, published in 2010, we should by all means at least briefly consider Aleksandra Mokranjac's first novel Transcription (1) published in 2006, which could be perceived as an introduction to her prose.
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).
In the end, he sees these painting as being about "the illusionism of reality (and the realism of illusions), about how the flat surface of the painting can only represent other surfaces" (179).
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.
Borrowing the conventions of Western illusionism, she isolated and enlarged facial features a hundred times and distributed them over walls.
Derren Brown is the leading man in his field, but that field is illusionism - and that tells its own story," said Stevens.
Vuitton's shrewd take on Gorbachev, however, clearly presents itself as staged, as being beneath illusionism, and even if ultimately it's just a cynical attempt to milk the street creds of the last czar of Soviet communism, its sly suggestion of driving the baggage of history ever forward still evades beatification and the perfect circularity of invoking great men from the past as a cover for present misdeeds.
Rather, it fails by ours: namely the supposed sophistication of illusionism or some unspecified three-dimensionality.
Naturalism and illusionism receive careful treatment in this chapter, and Rothstein argues that Van Eyck deliberately undermines his own naturalistic style in order to reinforce to the viewer that the painting is a physical object and not, in fact, a journalistic account of a naturally occurring scene.