Why is faux finish rendering better than the real thing? (to me at any rate) What makes trompe l’oeil (“deceive the eye”) so cool? Today, after more than a year of planning, the trompe-l’oeil mural we designed was installed.* For the past decade or so, interior decorating, wall-unit design, and furnishing of our places have been the main outlets for my artistic interests; when we acquired the condo a couple years ago I felt the terra cotta carvings outside should be brought inside somehow, hence this project. Now, through trompe-l’oeil sleight of hand, the Beaux-Arts sculpture that graces the building’s façade now graces my walls. There’s even a faux volume of EGEK in a faux crevice above the statue’s head.
Of philosophical interest to me, however, is the illusionistic niche that the technique occupies: while the painting should be nearly indistinguishable from the real thing, my feeling is that it should not appear so real that you can’t spot the trickery, but neither should it appear that the painter couldn’t have made it indistinguishable from the real thing had he or she chosen to. But why? Perhaps to appear otherwise would sacrifice the novelty, the daring-do, the sheer tour de force trickery. I’m prepared to admit that it is an idiosyncracy of mine to want my interiors whimsical, surprising, and downright puzzling.
*Thanks to the incredible skills of Ron Genereux and his Art Groove crew in NYC.
Awesome–What a great idea to bring the outside facade inside! I love the “double-take” that trompe-l’oeil inspires–that and the urgent need to touch–just to check–really makes a wall so much more alive and interesting to me.:)
This technique seems to be little used, but in the right hands it can go from the decorative to the sublime. When I was a kid I visited a church in the Orkney islands made out of cheap military huts by Italian prisoners in WWII. They had painted the inside in such a way that it looked liked 3D carvings. Really when you see it in person you have to touch the walls before you believe it is a painted wall rather than the stone carvings you would find in a cathedral. You can see a few pictures of it here (although the 3D effect doesn’t really come across):