Artistic Trickery: The Tradition of Trompe L'Oeil Art

Michael Capek, Author Lerner Publishing Group $22.6 (64p) ISBN 978-0-8225-2064-1
One of the more oddball traditions in art gets a well-deserved spotlight in this lively survey of visual jokes from ancient Roman times to the present. Using many examples, the author shows how artists as diverse as Mantegna, Magritte and Duane Hanson manipulate popular fascinations (e.g, with food, money, health or spatial relations) with their superrealistic renderings (of, for example, fruit tarts, coins, people or architectural motifs); viewers (and many readers of this book) gasp at both the artist's skill and their own gullibility. Americans like William M. Harnett, the Pealle family, Richard Haas, Marilyn Levine and contemporary interior designers are well represented, with the effect that trompe l'oeil seems almost a national pastime. But while the attractive layout and Capek's clear, comprehensive text convey the rationale behind this irreverent genre, the reproductions, otherwise adequate, lack the extreme crispness upon which the form's impact depends. Its impish delights require first-hand experience, or at least extraordinary replication. Ages 10-up. (May)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
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