Books : reviews

Al Seckel.
Masters of Deception: Escher, Dali and the artists of optical illusion.
Sterling. 2004

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 6 April 2008

Escher and Dali are just the "usual suspects" when it comes to illusions, strange perspectives, double meanings, surreal images, or whatnot. What distinguishes this book is the myriad of other, somewhat less well know, artists who have also amazed, amused, bewildered, and confused their audiences with peculiar pictures and sculptures. So we also get works from Giuseppe Arcimboldo (faces made from fruit, books, etc), Sandro Del-Prete (weird perspective), Jos De Mey (more Escher-esque pictures), Shigeo Fukuda (baroque 3D sculptures with surprising shadows or reflections, and 3D versions of Escher pictures), Rob Gonsalves (including the cover picture), Mathieu Hamaekers (3D implementations of "impossible" solids), Scott Kim ("ambigrams" and other illusory calligraphy), Akiyoshi Kitaoka (rotating and moving illusions), Ken Knowlton (mosaics from triangles, keyboards, dice, jigsaws pieces, spools of thread), Guido Moretti (more impossible 3D sculptures), Vik Muniz, Octavio Ocampo (faces made from strange components), István Orosz (anamorphic pictures), John Pugh (illusory murals -- marvellous!), Oscar Reutersvärd, Roger Shepard, Dick Termes (pictures on spheres), and Rex Whistler (invertible faces). It also includes some historical perspective: earlier (sometimes much earlier), more elaborate variants of famous illusions, such as the "young girl/old woman" and "faces/vase". There's lots to marvel at here.