Illusionary art: a long history of fascination

While having entire galleries dedicated to immersive art is a relatively modern phenomenon, the incorporation of visual illusions into art pieces has been happening for hundreds of years.

The discovery of perspective in the 14th century triggered the emergence of a wider range of elaborate, visual manipulations in painting and architecture in the following centuries. Trompe-l’oeil, meaning ‘trick of the eye’ in French, is a visual art technique that tricks the eye by creating an optical illusion. Trompe-l’oeil came into fashion as realistic illusionary portraits gained popularity amongst the 17th century French social elite. The technique has roots in both ancient Greece and Rome where illusionary murals were painted on doors, windows and hallways to create a wider spatial effect.

Hundreds of years since this discovery of ‘illusion art’ and people remain intrigued by it. In more modern forms illusionary art can be found all over the place, from optical illusions in magazines to street art in laneways, the way in which artworks change or move depending on how you look at them continues to fascinate.

For more information on the science behind optical illusions and why the brain reacts to certain images in the way it does head to