Editor's note: The Portland Museum of Art provided source material to Resource Library for the following article or essay. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the Portland Museum of Art directly through either this phone number or web address:


False Documents & Other Illusions

October 30, 2010 through January 2, 2011


This fall the Portland Museum of Art is presenting an exhibition of contemporary artists using the concept of trompe l'oeil, meaning to "fool the eye." False Documents & Other Illusions, on view October 30 through January 2, 2011, will showcase 32 works offering a spectrum of approaches to illusion by 13 contemporary artists. This exhibition runs in conjunction with John Haberle: American Master of Illusion, an exhibition of traditional 19th-century trompe l'oeil paintings on view through December 12, 2010. False Documents & Other Illusions is the second in a series of exhibitions called Circa that explores compelling aspects of contemporary art in the state of Maine and beyond. (right: Vik Muniz (United States, born Brazil, 1961), Verso (The Winner in Broad Jump, Jesse Owens), 2008, mixed media, edition 2/6, 6.75 x 9.125 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., NY.)

Traditionally, the French phrase trompe l'oeil refers to paintings in which objects are painted with such a high degree of realism that they appear to be real, rather than rendered. It is only upon closer investigation that the illusion is revealed. Contemporary artists have employed hyper-realistic trompe l'oeil tactics as a tool for deception in works of all media, ranging from performance and video, to sculpture, installation, and works on paper.

False Documents & Other Illusions will feature sculptures by artists such as Susan Collis, Carly Glovinski, and Duncan Hewitt carefully re-presenting unlikely and often overlooked subjects. Plastic shopping bags, nails, paint-splattered wood, and rubber inner tubes are all exquisitely portrayed with ink on paper, precious stones, and carved and painted wood. In his Verso series, Vik Muniz replicated in painstaking detail, the backs of famous paintings from museums and photographs from the archives of The New York Times. Artists such as Nina Katchadourian and The Yes Men use the framework of real-world situations to play out scenes of misconception on the streets. For her Natural Car Alarms project, Katchadourian has reconstructed the familiar urban six-tone car alarm with one that uses bird calls. In a similarly disorienting act, The Yes Men created a "special edition" of The New York Times filled with articles they wished to be true, and distributed it across Manhattan as a Special Edition of the morning paper.

Humor, beauty, and revelation will appear in unexpected ways in this exhibition requiring the viewer to investigate what they see in order to complete the experience of each piece. The works will evoke a sense of wonder at the making of each art object and yet confound perceptions about how art typically distinguishes itself from everyday life. Artists in the exhibition include: Susan Collis (London, England), Marti Cormand (New York, NY), Carly Glovinski (South Berwick, ME), Carl Haase (Portland, ME), Duncan Hewitt (Hollis, ME), Nina Katchadourian (New York, NY), Angela Lorenz (Morrill, ME), Vik Muniz (New York, NY), Ken Solomon (New York, NY), Molly Springfield (Washington, D.C.), Mary Temple (New York, NY), Steve Wolfe (San Francisco, CA), and The Yes Men (Troy, NY). (left: Carly Glovinski (United States, born 1981), Untitled (9 bags constructed and manipulated to appear as plastic shopping bags), 2010, ink, tracing paper, adhesive, dimensions variable. Lent by the artist.)

The Museum plans to showcase two Circa exhibitions per year featuring the work of living artists from Maine and beyond, in both group and solo formats.

To view the checklist from the exhibition please click here.


Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Portland Museum of Art in Resource Library.

Editor's note: Resource Library readers may also enjoy:

and biographical information on artists cited in this article in America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2010 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.