Anamorphosen - Geheime Bilderwelten

Optical illuisons in the form of anamorphoses were the artistic experiments of the Renaissance. These pictures seem to fool the viewer by hiding the original subject through intentional distortion that in turn produces new abstract forms. The fascinating interplay between the obvious and the hidden make the viewer experience the ambiguity of the illustrations.


Anamorphoses do not instantly reveal their true identity. Some of them have to be viewed from a certain angle; others even require the use of geometrical mirrors or apparatus fitted with optical prisms to rectify the distortion.


The flowering period of anamorphoses was the 18th and 19th century, in which entertaining optical family amusement spread everywhere. Production methods and painting techniques became more and more mechanised and thus paved the way for inexpensive reproductions made in large numbers of copies. As a result, everybody had a chance to buy anamorphoses.


Anamorphoses live a lonely and shadowy existence in most of todays museums. And as optical curiosity they have a rather marginal existence in big collections of popular printed graphic art.


The present book is intended to give due credit to the anamorphoses. And, it is also an attempt to draw attention to the lost art of optical illusions.