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The Art of the Illusion: Deceptions to Challenge the Eye and the Mind    by Brad Honeycutt & Terry Stickels Amazon.com order for
Art of the Illusion
by Brad Honeycutt
Order:  USA  Can
Charlesbridge, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

The Art of the Illusion Deceptions to Challenge the Eye and the Mind offers a virtual feast for eyes and mind. Full page color illustrations highlight over two hundred of the finest images from around the world that cover the spectrum of optical illusions.

With artists ranging from Rafal Olbinski, Rob Gonsalves, and Octavio Ocampo to David Macdonald, Gene Levine and M.C. Escher, this collection ranges far and wide from the most classic optical illusions to complex graphic and painterly designs that transform the impossible into the believable.

You'll find famous paintings, dazzling photographs and eye catching computer-enhanced graphics that defy description and will have you shaking your head in wonder.

The first example of the intentional creation of an optical illusion appeared on a coin found on the Island of Lesbos around 2500 B.C.. What appears to be two bulls facing each other, upon closer inspection, can also be seen as a wolf's face staring straight ahead.

Since then the history of optical illusion has been an up and down affair. Periods of inactivity are followed by renewed interest and a flurry of material. Anamorphosis or slant art - which requires the viewer to either occupy a certain vantage point or employ a reflective device (usually conical or cylindrical) to see clearly images that, at first, appear to be little more than smears of paint on a canvass or palette - were a curiosity hundreds of years ago.

In the Renaissance double imagery became popular where, say, a collection of items like fruits, animals, vegetables or other objects were molded together in such a manner as to present a human portrait or some other image. Giuseppe Arcimboldo produced a number of works with this quality.

Of course, more modern artists such as Salvador Dali, Josef Albers, Bridget Riley and Victor Vaserly contributed to the optical illusion genre. More recently ambigrams have captured the eye of those will enjoy this type of material. 'An ambigram is a form of art that presents two or more different words within the same physical space through a mix of illusion and symmetry,' explains the authors in the book's introduction.

For example, Scott Kim created one where San Francisco when turned upside down, still reads San Francisco. John Landon took the word True and when turned upside down it reads False.

You'll quickly discover that this remarkable book can be enjoyed over and over again. And, yes, you'll be turning the pages every-which-way to change the perspective and view some of the images from different angles. After the introduction, each image is accompanied by just a line or two of explanation. The editors let the images do the talking!

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