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Art Illusions

Masterpieces of Trompe-l'œil from Antiquity to the Present Day

Anna Maria Giusti


edited by Annamaria Giusti

exhibition catalogue: Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, 16 October 2009–24 January 2010

publication year: 2009
paperback with flaps
24.5x29 cm; 320 pp.
234 colour illustrations

978-88-7461-139-3 Italian
978-88-7461-140-9 English

The motif of trompe l’œil—optical illusion—has traversed all of Western art, going back to the classical world and the legendary contest between Zeuxis and Parrhasius. Every artistic expression from painting, first and foremost, to sculpture and the applied arts has ceaselessly experimented with the fascinating challenge of mimesis. There are countless examples: the inlaid wooden cabinets—left ajar—of the Renaissance, tabletops made of scagliola and semi-precious stones with an array of seemingly three-dimensional objects, porcelains designed to make tureens and knick-knacks look like vegetables, and the anatomical and botanical wax models of the 18th and 19th centuries.
The richly illustrated exhibition catalogue, published by Mandragora and edited by Annamaria Giusti, features essays by Cristina Acidini, Sybille Ebert-Schifferer, Fauzia Farneti, Marc Fumaroli, Miriam Milman, Mark D. Mitchell and Jan Muylle, who probe the simulation of reality in every medium, from painting to sculpture and architecture.
These essays are accompanied by an examination of the exhibited works, divided into ten sections. The entries cover virtually every era from the 1st century bc to the pres-ent day, examining Pompeian art, polyacrylic resins, holograms and Flemish painting—with master-pieces by Cornelis Norbertus Gijsbrechts—and ranging from the applied arts to the experimentation of painters of the calibre of Mantegna, Titian, Tintoretto, Velázquez and Tiepolo.