Illusionism

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illusionism,

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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.

Illusionism

 

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.


Illusionism

 

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.

REFERENCES

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.]

IU. A. DMITRIEV