Trompe L’oeil II

Notes from Ebert-Schifferer, Sybille. Deceptions and Illusions: Five Centuries of Trompe l’Oeil Painting. Washington DC: National Gallery of Art, 2002.

P. 21

Why trompe l’oeil started to be accepted in the 13th c.

“In contrast with Aristotle, Plato rejected the mimetic capacity of painting as nothing but a shadow play obscuring the truth. And in the wake of medieval Christian thought, when everything the human eye could see was deemed a hollow semblance, illusionism was like wise denigrated as mere ‘deceit’.” The shift occurred in the 13th century with a new empirical approach – one-point perspective, light and shadow, colors, and imitation becomes a good thing.

From Vasari – “It is said that when Giotto was only a boy with Cimabue, he once painted a fly on the nose of a face that Cimabue had drawn, so naturally that the master returning to his work tried more than once to drive it away with his hand, thinking it was real. And I might tell you of many other jests played by Giotto, but of this enough.”

P. 23

Sense of touch and trompe l’oeil

Onion_touchingArtMET

Image from The Onion -Struggling Museum Now Allowing Patrons To Touch Paintings. ISSUE 45•41 • Oct 5, 2009

“When the object is no longer optically distinguishable from its representation, the sense of touch becomes a corrective to the sense of sight.”

Rules of trompe l’oeil

“It is agreed that a trompe l’oeil motif must be represented in a natural or, at least, plausible size, as completely as possible (not cut off by the picture frame for instance), and with no visible traces of the painting process. Otherwise the viewer’s expectations in regard to a real object might be challenged.”

“It is agreed that a trompe l’oeil motif must be represented in a natural or, at least, plausible size, as completely as possible (not cut off by the picture frame for instance), and with no visible traces of the painting process. Otherwise the viewer’s expectations in regard to a real object might be challenged.”

Alan Carroll outlines 5 rules of trompe l’oeil on his blog Surface Fragments.

  • paint object actual size
  • shallow space is better
  • hide brushstrokes
  • don’t paint humans
  • paint the entire object

In the forward to The Reality of Appearance: The Trompe L’oeil Tradition in American Painting by Alfred Frankenstein, there is also a list of rules by which trompe l’oeil should follow.  Frankenstein and Carroll have most of the same items. Frankenstein elaborates that dead animals are fine subject matter because they are still.

P. 24

Viewer interaction is essential

“…elicit a feeling of astonishment … and of longing admiration.”

“The goal of trompe l’oeil is not the continuous deception of the viewer … but rather the feeling of astonishment at one’s own perception.”

“Trompe l’oeils belong among the most extroverted of all artistic genres to the extent that without the reaction of a viewer they lose their raison d’etre.”

“…trompe l’oeil paintings represent a highly self-reflexive genre, a sustained debate between the art and itself, the artist and himself. Thus trompe l’oeil paintings are much more than mere technical artifice or decoration, as has so long been asserted within the academic hierarchy of genres.”

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2 thoughts on “Trompe L’oeil II

    • i would say it depends, like if it is really trying to imitate the look of a photograph or a medium other than a painting i would say yes, but if it is just a very lifelike image of a person than i would say it’s not a trompe l’oeil. For example this drawing at the Harvard Art Museums looks like a bunch of cards are on a table, and the cards feature people.

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