Cubism and the Trompe l'Oeil Tradition Emily Braun, Elizabeth Cowling, Claire Le Thomas, Rachel Mustalish

Publication date:
25 Oct 2022
Metropolitan Museum of Art
256 pages: 267 x 241mm
200 color illus.
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Delightfully original, this book establishes Cubism’s intrinsic connection to the traditional art of pictorial illusion

The age-old artistic tradition of illusionistic realism known as trompe l’oeil (“deceive the eye”) beguiles us with visual tricks and confounds our perception of reality and fiction. Presenting a radically new take on Cubism, this book shows how Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Juan Gris parodied classic trompe l’oeil motifs and devices while inventing playful, original ways of challenging the viewer’s perception. Insightful, handsomely illustrated essays explore connections between the Cubists and the trompe l’oeil artists of earlier centuries with whom they engaged in creative one-upmanship. Essays discuss the previously unstudied trompe l’oeil iconography within Cubist still lifes; the history of the trompe l’oeil genre and its changing status over the centuries; the materials and processes used in Gris’s collages; Braque’s grounding in trompe l’oeil interior decoration techniques; and more. Over one hundred illustrated works juxtapose Cubist paintings, drawings, and collages with related compositions by the old masters. This handsome volume, which reveals the surprising origins of some of Cubism’s most recognized motifs, is essential reading for anyone interested in the development of modern art.

Emily Braun is distinguished professor of art history at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and curator at the Leonard A. Lauder Collection, New York. Elizabeth Cowling is professor emeritus and honorary fellow in the Department of the History of Art at the University of Edinburgh. Claire Le Thomas is associate researcher at the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie et d’Histoire de l’Institution de la Culture (LAHIC), Paris. Rachel Mustalish is conservator in the Department of Paper Conservation at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.