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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
Though stylistically similar in combining illusionistic precision with the effects of blur, the curtains were not however based on photographs.
Aside from panoramas, shadow shows, and structures such as Fonthill Abbey and the Temple of Health and Hymen, Otto provides rich and detailed accounts of phantasmagorias (illusionistic ghost-shows) and moving-picture shows, which used lighting and sound effects to create simulations of three-dimensional movement that contemporary audiences found very convincing.
Another superb painting from the Norton collection is a trompe l'oeil or "fool the eye" illusionistic composition by Jacobus Biltius, dated around 1670.
By writing coherent sentences that yet use phony, concocted, or deliberately absurd referents, which in turn do not carry over even from paragraph to paragraph, Wellman satisfies both our urge to read along and our dissatisfaction with merely mimetic or illusionistic tableaux.
The 24-year-old's work is influenced by abstract expressionists such as Hans Hoffman and Helen Frankenthaler and she will be exhibiting two new works which explore illusionistic space through the use of colour.
With one exception, all the sets were richly detailed and illusionistic. The opening set depicted the courtyard, with the church on one side and Baptista's house on the other, complete with stained glass windows and orange tiled roofs.
The drapery folds which appear before a shaped window frame are an illusionistic device used in a number of his works.
Within this domestic receptacle are spaces for study, sleeping, washing, living and dining stacked up with the precision of a Chinese puzzle and linked by disarmingly vertiginous flights of stairs seemingly hijacked from the illusionistic imagination of M.
Virginia Scotchie, another ceramic artist, employs visual contradictions through illusionistic surface treatments to provoke thought and contemplation.
In a mote theoretical essay, Karen-Edis Barzman defines early modern spectacles as illusionistic discursive fields in which power manifests itself, but in which it may also be contested, and illustrates her ideas by examining paintings by Masaccio and Correggio, the city-planning of Rome, and the placement of ex-votos in churches.
Excerpts from another video, Painting the Town: The Illusionistic Murals of Richard Haas, prepared students to see the murals.