Trompe L’Oeil

The trompe l’oeil in this guitar gives rise to an impulse to quickly take a naphtha-soaked rag to it and wipe off the paint that someone carelessly spilled onto it.  But it’s not carelessly dripped paint; it’s purposefully thought out and rendered wood inlay.

Trompe l’oeil is French for “a trick of the eye” or “tricking the eye”. It is a style of European painting that rose to prominence in the Baroque era but which originated much longer ago. Technically, it is a two-dimensional work that carries something called perspectival illusionism: this is when painters would paint things that were so realistic that they looked three-dimensional on a surface that everyone knew was flat.  One example of trompe l’oeil was to paint coins on bar tops that would look so realistic that customers would try to pick the coins up. The illusion looked three-dimensionally REAL, not just painted.  Another was to paint a picture in which something seemed to be jumping out of the canvas and even obscuring some of the frame. A yet older iteration was to paint a door into a wall, perhaps in the middle of a mural, to make the room look as though it were larger and led to another room.   

To see some modern examples of perspectival illusionism, Google “3d sidewalk art”, “trompe l’oeil illusions”, “trompe l’oeil tattoos”, or such. 

 

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