trompe l'oeil

Posted by Ellen

Let's just not go there with the hypertension thing, though it's a real deal, all properly proclaimed. But today is way too remarkable for other reasons.

To start with, very close to home, we celebrate May 17 as the birthday of our little sister Carol, as well as the birthday, on the Stein side of the family, of our brother-in-law Bob, as well as the wedding anniversary of Richard and Arleigh Stein, as well as the 480th anniversary of the annulment of the marriage of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII of England.

Not only, not only. The very day of little sister's birth in 1954 is also known to history as the day the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in Brown v. Board of Education, knocking the legalistic props out from under racial segregation in public schools, though of course failing to end racial segregation in public schools. And there's more, at least on a technicality: the Brown decision applied only to public schools run by the various state governments, not to schools in the District of Columbia, where everything was run by the federal government and also where, it so happened, our little sister was born. The Supreme Court needed to decide a separate case, Bolling v. Sharpe, to order desegregation of schools in Washington, D.C., but it efficiently took care of that detail on the very same day as little sister's birth. Eight days later, the D.C. School Board announced a desegregation plan, and thus, had little sister been smart enough to start school as a newborn infant, which she very nearly was, she might have enrolled in a newly desegregated classroom.

The photo above shows a bit of what Sis is up to these days: mosaicking the side of her garage to suggest a door and some pretty awesome windows.

Posted by Ellen

Drawings that can be appreciated only by looking at them in a curved mirror have been around for hundreds of years, but three-dimensional sculpture that reveals itself only in a curved mirror is brand new, perhaps thirty or forty years old. It can't be done without modern computer power, calculating in three dimensions the projection in space of each point on the mirrored surface and generating the "solution" to the digital algorithms via a 3-D printer.

There was often a practical reason for many of the old 2-D mirror drawings; they allowed the artist to ncorporate details into his work that were too racy or politically incorrect for a general audience but of considerable interest to those in the know, who might enjoy them by setting a polished cylinder in front of the painting.

The purpose of 3-D sculpture, on the other hand, such as these works by South African artist and software engineer Jonty Hurwitz, is less utilitarian, more a matter of artistic virtuosity. It's a cool thing that's really, really hard to do, but Hurwitz can pull it off. 

Posted by Ellen

Icelandic sculptor Steinunn Thorarinsdottir  populated this garden just south of the Art Institute with aluminum and cast iron people.

Posted by Ellen

They're asking 7000 Euros in Amsterdam for this trompe l'oeil coat made of wood.

Posted by Ellen

For the 2007 Prairie Art Festival in Medicine Bow, Saskatchewan, German street artist Edgar Mueller turned River Street into a serious river.

Posted by Ellen

German artist EVOL works with stencils and spray paint on concrete walls, steel electrical cabinets, and plain cardboard boxes to create vast high-rise apartment blocks. For this installation in a Berlin parking garage, EVOL works a cross-beam into his creation as a crushing artistic blow.

Posted by Ellen

 

Two subtle murals on rowhouse endwalls at 22nd and Walnut streets in Philadelphia recover in shadow and reflection a long-gone church that once occupied the site that is now is a gas station.

Artist Michael Webb painted every brick on the two murals, which adorn plain stucco walls that had long been covered with graffiti. St. James Church dated back to 1870, which is the era rendered in the murals' architectural details.

Sunoco commissioned the murals in 1999, hoping to put an end to the gas station's graffiti problems. The plan worked.