Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Trompe l’oeil

This week's post is brought to you once again by intern Jennie!

Well, hey there!  Have you gone to the Shock of the New screenings at the Zinema 2 yet?  If yes, good for you!  Thanks!  If not, don’t worry; you have three more chances.  So go, go, go!

This Saturday, March 24th, we’ve got UMD art professor Jen Dietrich speaking.  Beforehand we’ll be watching the Shock of the New episode “Culture as Nature.”  So make your way over to the Zinema 2 at 11a.m. and enjoy our complimentary entertainment and education.

This week’s blog post is brought to you by the vocab word…

trompe l'oeil noun [trômp loi]
1. a style of painting in which objects are depicted with photographically realistic detail
2. a trompe l'oeil painting or effect
3. something that misleads or deceives the senses : illusion

Trompe l’oeil in French translates as “fools the eye.”  It’s all about tricking the viewer. Ex. “That’s a painting?! It looks like a photograph!”  Every detail must be totally perfecto.

Photorealism is a popular form of trompe l’oeil, and Chuck Close is an expert.  Painting from photographs, Close gets every hair and pore and freckle and flaw perfect in his huge portrait paintings.  No matter how closely you inspect his paintings, there is no evidence of any brushstroke.  For real, it’s amazing!

You can go check out his self-portrait at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis right now!  If you haven’t seen it, go now.  If you have seen it, go again.

Oh, and P.S. Chuck Close is one radical dude.  On December 7, 1988 he had a seizure which left him paralyzed from the neck down (diagnosed as spinal artery collapse) and has lived in a wheelchair ever since.

Now, if that were me, I’d get real sad and probably not paint anymore.  But not Chuck Close.  Nope.  He kept painting with a brush taped to his wrist.


His style changed, as he wasn’t able to paint quite as meticulously as before, but he adapted.  His canvases remain as immense as before, but instead of painting photorealistic images, he paints in a grid format, which, when viewed from afar, reads as pseudo-photorealism.


Some really, really fun examples of trompe l’oeil come from sidewalk chalk artist Kurt Wenner.  He creates unbelievable works of art that look so convincingly real; it looks like you could fall right in.

It’s ridiculous.

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