John Cederquist
Never Without His Sword, 2004
Wood, epoxy resin, and lithographic ink
81 5/8 x 37 3/4 x 25 1/2 inches
Racine Art Museum, Gift of The Estate of Linda Brooks Sullivan
Photography: Jon Bolton

Fool the Eye: Addressing Illusion in Contemporary Art

February 9 – September 24, 2022
at Racine Art Museum

Traditionally, the phrase trompe l’oeil (French for fool or deceive the eye) is associated with two-dimensional imagery that appears to be three-dimensional space or objects. While the phrase gained popularity in the early nineteenth century, illusionistic images—especially as associated with artistic endeavors—were being created centuries before that in Greco-Roman mosaics, Renaissance cathedral ceilings, and Dutch still lives. More modern interpretations include large-scale murals on building exteriors as well as street chalk drawings.

Trompe l’oeil artwork is regarded by some as the manipulation of materials with highly technical skill. In addition, there is a kind of humor implicit in the object’s creation—knowing that the viewer will likely have a moment of surprise or disbelief. Expanding on this, contemporary artists use illusion to draw attention to the meaning of objects, to suggest narratives and stories of human presence or absence, or to comment on society, culture, and history.

Three-dimensional explorations of illusion have often included suggesting one material through another—such as sculpting “fabric” made of marble. This exhibition, with works drawn from RAM’s collection, features contemporary interpretations of trompe l’oeil technique. While most of the works included are three-dimensional, two-dimensional examples offer more direct links to art historical precedents.

More About the Exhibition

Exhibition Notes (PDF)

Press Room

Artists in the Exhibition

Susan Beiner, John Cederquist, Carol Cohen, Karen Dahl, James Doran, Paul Dresang, Tom Eckert, David Furman, Harold E. Hansen, Manuel Hughes, Tory Hughes, Ron Isaacs, Ah Leon, Marilyn Levine, Dulany Lingo, Lindsay Locatelli, Wen Xia and Jian Xing Lu, Wendy Wallin Malinow, Steven Montgomery, Richard Newman, Richard Shaw, Victor Spinski, and John Wickenberg

Fool the Eye: Addressing Illusion in Contemporary Art

February 9 – September 24, 2022
at Racine Art Museum
John Cederquist
Never Without His Sword, 2004
Wood, epoxy resin, and lithographic ink
81 5/8 x 37 3/4 x 25 1/2 inches
Racine Art Museum, Gift of The Estate of Linda Brooks Sullivan
Photography: Jon Bolton

Traditionally, the phrase trompe l’oeil (French for fool or deceive the eye) is associated with two-dimensional imagery that appears to be three-dimensional space or objects. While the phrase gained popularity in the early nineteenth century, illusionistic images—especially as associated with artistic endeavors—were being created centuries before that in Greco-Roman mosaics, Renaissance cathedral ceilings, and Dutch still lives. More modern interpretations include large-scale murals on building exteriors as well as street chalk drawings.

Trompe l’oeil artwork is regarded by some as the manipulation of materials with highly technical skill. In addition, there is a kind of humor implicit in the object’s creation—knowing that the viewer will likely have a moment of surprise or disbelief. Expanding on this, contemporary artists use illusion to draw attention to the meaning of objects, to suggest narratives and stories of human presence or absence, or to comment on society, culture, and history.

Three-dimensional explorations of illusion have often included suggesting one material through another—such as sculpting “fabric” made of marble. This exhibition, with works drawn from RAM’s collection, features contemporary interpretations of trompe l’oeil technique. While most of the works included are three-dimensional, two-dimensional examples offer more direct links to art historical precedents.

More About the Exhibition

Exhibition Notes (PDF)

Press Room

Artists in the Exhibition

Susan Beiner, John Cederquist, Carol Cohen, Karen Dahl, James Doran, Paul Dresang, Tom Eckert, David Furman, Harold E. Hansen, Manuel Hughes, Tory Hughes, Ron Isaacs, Ah Leon, Marilyn Levine, Dulany Lingo, Lindsay Locatelli, Wen Xia and Jian Xing Lu, Wendy Wallin Malinow, Steven Montgomery, Richard Newman, Richard Shaw, Victor Spinski, and John Wickenberg

Sample of Work in the Exhibition

Click/tap an image for more information

Installation View

Exhibitions at RAM are made possible by:

Platinum Sponsors

The Estate of Karen Johnson Boyd
David Charak
Judith and David Flegel Fund
Ron and Judith Isaacs
Nicholas and Nancy Kurten
Racine Community Foundation logo
Windgate Foundation

Diamond Sponsors

City of Racine’s Grow Racine Grant
Osborne and Scekic Family Foundation
Ruffo Family Foundation
Ruth Arts Foundation

Gold Sponsors

Anonymous
Tom and Irene Creecy
Richard and Patricia Ehlert
Trio Foundation of St. Louis
W.T. Walker Group, Inc.
Wisconsin Arts Board

Silver Sponsors

Anonymous
Baird
Beta Diagnostic Labs
A.C. Buhler Family
Lucy G. Feller
Ben and Dawn Flegel
Jim Harris
Sharon and Tom Harty
Horizon Retail Construction, Inc.
Lise Iwon
J. Jeffers & Co.
Johnson Financial Group
Dorothy MacVicar
Jan Serr and John Shannon

Bronze Sponsors

Ellen and Joseph Albrecht
Andis Foundation
Susan Boland
Virginia Buhler
Dave’s Wine Garage
Educators Credit Union
Express Employment Professionals
Bill and Debbie Keland
Susan Manalli
Jean and Alex Mandli, Jr.
The Prairie School
Cathy Stanghellin
Twin Disc, Inc.

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