10 Artworks That Are Guaranteed to Fool Your Eye

10 Artworks That Are Guaranteed to Fool Your Eye
Adam McEwen's Chocolate Bar (2012)

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me; fool me three times... and now it's starting to get fun. If you like optical illusions, here's a roundup of artworks that will leave you seeing double in the most entertaining way.

carlos cruz diez

Though composed merely of vertical lines of color arrayed on a black background, this piece by Venezuelan Op-Art master Carlos Cruz-Diez will have you seeing overlapping planes of colorful diamonds that appear to hover in three-dimensional space.

sherree hovesepian

Created by placing objects over photographic paper in a darkroom environment, this piece by Sheree Hovsepian—from a series exploring haptic phenomena, or images that somehow qualities of touch—employs simple means to create a powerful effect: the shapes seem to float in a void, the one on the bottom coming toward the viewer and the top receding into space.

robert heinecken

The late Robert Heinecken wasn't technically part of the pictures generation, but his photographic appropriations of magazine ads took similar strategies to weirder, eye-boggling ends, such was in this elegant overlay of two luxury women's product ads that creates a surreal effect.

tomma abts

A master of perceptual trickery, the German painter Tomma Abts specializes in geometric abstractions that invent impossible spatio-logical systems—like a mix of M.C. Escher and Minimalism—and this piece is a particularly disorienting example.

aaron young

In this piece, the bad-boy artist Aaron Young takes a popular optical parlor trick—if you follow the directions in the work's title you'll see the shape hovering before your eyes—and adapts one of its weirder head-shop varieties into art: the floating figure you'll see will either look like Jesus, Charles Manson, or Che Guevara, depending on your inclination.  

sara greenberger rafferty

In a humorous homage to the trick photography of the late 19th century that magicians and psychic mediums used to depict their "mystical" performances—overlaying multiple different exposures as a primitive sort of Photoshop—the artist Sara Greenberger Rafferty shows herself juggling four rings here, with a fifth uncannily seeming to disappear in her hands.

adam mcewen

It's April Fools Day year-round for Adam McEwen, from his obituaries of living celebrities (he used to be a professional newspaper obit writer) to his painstaking facsimiles of objects—from soy-sauce jars to credit cards to chocolate bars (like this one)—that he convincingly crafts out of pure graphite.

barbara kasten

This composition of angling lines and intersecting shapes by Barbara Kasten looks a bit like a classic piece of Constructivist art—think El Lissitzky—but it's really the product of an elaborate system of mirrors and objects that the artist sets up in her studio and photographs.

ivan navarro

The Chilean artist Ivan Navarro specializes in sculptures that use infinity mirrors to repeat certain phrases along the walls of his sculptures that seem to go on for as far as the eye can see, and peering into this piece—which is pleasingly squat and sits on the floor—feels like gazing into a beauty-lit manhole that plummets into eternity.

cerith wyn evans

This photograph by the Welsh artist Cerith Wyn Evans makes a poetic match between a torn piece of paper and a picture of an open window, playing with the differences between photographic, illusionistic, and real space.


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