Illusion and Reality in Art
Bucerius Kunst Forum
February 13 to May 24, 2010
Can paintings lie? The trompe-l’oeil (French for “trick the eye”) genre clearly answers this question with yes. Since classical antiquity, artists have found amusement in cunningly deceiving the eye and brilliantly dedicating themselves to the art of illusion. Mosaics, drawings, sculptures and paintings lead viewers to the extreme edge of illusion: what appears to be a real object is actually only a clever representation.
Trompe-l’oeil painting speaks to our sense of touch, thereby playfully questioning the dominance of sight. It appears to do away with the boundary between the pictorial world and the viewers’ space and thus inverts the normal perspective of paintings. By emphasizing the world of objects, it paves the way for reality to appear in art. It competes with relief and sculpture genres and proves its mastery by simulating the material nature of sculptural arts.
“Tricking the eye” is a challenge that artists meet in order to sharpen their senses. The exhibition Genuine Illusions. Illusion and Reality in Art illustrates the historical development of optical illusions from classical antiquity to present times in painting, drawing and sculpture as well as in video and installation art. It examines the motives of the artists and depicts the many ways of interpreting reality produced by trompe-l’oeil.
The continuing interest of artists in deceiving the eye is reflected in contemporary artistic positions, an area that the Bucerius Kunst Forum is expanding into for the first time with this exhibition. The particular timeliness of trompe-l’oeil is proven in our digital age – an era marked by questions regarding the reality of the images we see.