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TitleWhat is wrong with trompe l’oeil
Author(s)Moura, Vítor
Teoria da imagem
Issue date2023
PublisherUniversidade do Minho. Laboratório de Paisagens, Património e Território (Lab2PT)
Citation“What is wrong with trompe l’oeil”, in 2D / 3D Producing Illusion, Guimarães: Lab2PT, 2023, 30-49
Abstract(s)Richard Wollheim's seeing-in theory is one of the most powerful and ductile philosophical accounts of depiction. It portrays the experience of art as the phenomenon of conscientiously acknowledging something being represented in a material support. A disturbing consequence, however, and one fully endorsed by Wollheim himself, is the disavowal of the representational status to all graphic forms that deny the viewer the twofold experience of the represented object and of the “marked surface”. This anathema affects hyper realist works but also, and most significantly, trompe l'oeil painting. After surveying Wollheim's arguments we propose a different solution, by entertaining the thought that it is possible to have a kind of aesthetic seeing-in without the need for a perceptual seeing-in.
Trompe l’oeil pictures have become a philosophical topic because they constitute a serious problem for those theories of picture that grant a special role to the viewer’s awareness of the pictorial means for representation, namely, the awareness that one is looking at marks in a surface, that the author is transposing a tridimensional reality into a bidimensional rendition, that one should pay attention to the brushwork or indeed the lack thereof, the contour, punch mark, aerial perspective, the ruggedness or smoothness of the surface, fineness of detail or sketchy and raw execution. According to these medium-oriented theories, to be aesthetically involved with pictures necessarily means that the spectator is interested in the making of the work, i.e., the particular way in which the representing surface was produced. This opens up another important aspect of our aesthetic enjoyment of art, namely that we are always probing the ways in which the painting’s plasticity or its material implementation hold symbolic meaning, or to put it in other words, how the artist’s particular choices in her treatment of the medium makes us see an object presented in a quite unique way. Arguably the most notorious of such theories is contained in Richard Wollheim’s aesthetics of painting. Most notoriously, trompe l’oeil pictures became a subject of aesthetic controversy after the sort of anathema that Wollheim has thrown upon them, denying them the status of pictorial depiction and withdrawing them from the realm of proper representation. Whatever they may be, trompe l’oeil pictures are not depictions. The reason for this cancelling lies in the fact that trompe l’oeil pictures work in contradiction to the kind of representational seeing that Wollheim describes as the basic tool for the perception of pictures. He calls this seeing-in.
TypeBook part
Publisher version
AccessOpen access
Appears in Collections:CEHUM - Livros e Capítulos de Livros

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