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Masters of Deception: Escher, Dali, and the Artists of Optical Illusion
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Masters of Deception: Escher, Dali, and the Artists of Optical Illusion

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  948 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Astonishing creations by masters of the art, such as Escher, Dali, and Archimbolo; amazing visual trickery; and an illuminating foreword by the Pulitzer Prize--winning author Douglas R. Hofstadter make this 320-page, breathtaking collection the definitive book of optical illusions.

Rings of seahorses that seem to rotate on the page. Butterflies that transform right before
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 1st 2004 by Sterling (first published 2004)
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This is an excellent introduction to modern art that prominently features one or more types of visual illusion. A wide range of artists and techniques are show-cased. There is an introduction to each artist featuring some biographical information and discussion of the artist's motivations and techniques but really the images themselves are centre stage in this book.


See the complete review here:
Gillian Kevern
Mar 13, 2016 Gillian Kevern rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, art
The three star rating is a measure of my enjoyment, not an assessment of the book -- I am not an art person, I know nothing about it beyond taking painting all through high school. I found myself skimming a lot of the background/art talk, but I did enjoy the pictures and what I understood of their selection.

Mar 07, 2016 Andrea rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Even if you don't read any of the essays, you'll have fun flipping through this collection of surreal, optical illusion, dual-image, and other sense-bending art. While it includes obvious choices like Escher and Dali, there's also some newcomers I hadn't heard of, such as the Renaissance painter Arcimboldo, the illusions of Kitaoka that appear to move, and the sculptures of Moretti that appear completely different depending on the angle used to view them. And I was kind of blown away by Muniz's ...more
Dec 10, 2010 Ita rated it it was amazing
Outstanding. Printed on good quality paper with a fabulous assortment of optical illusions. I spent hours examining/admiring the artwork, then went back and read the book. I wasn't planning on actually reading it, but the author actually adds historical context and explains some of the images. Amazingly low price for the size of the book and the quality of the paper.
Mar 10, 2009 Parka rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art-books
Masters of Deception
(More pictures at

This book is a delightful treat to anyone who loves optical illusion.

Here's a quote from the author, Al Seckel, in the introduction:

In researching and presenting optical illusions to wide audiences, I have found that their effect on people is very primal. It does not matter how old they are, how artistic they are, how intelligent they are, what their background or culture is; people just love optical illusions and enjoy being deceived in a delightful and surpri
Dec 03, 2015 Christina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art
An excellent book on optical illusions. My ten-year-old nephew and I went through the whole book just looking at the images when I received it for my birthday, and both loved it. The text is light, allowing the content to focus on the images instead. Each chapter focuses on a different artist with a 3 page biography followed by about 10 pages of images, often with brief explanations.
What is interesting is how many of the artists had mathematical backgrounds, though it does make sense. They ofte
Nov 02, 2011 Kaethe rated it really liked it
The Offspring received this as a present for Christmas, and finally got around to looking at it. There are some cool and truly mind-blowing works within.


What happened is, the kids got it, and took it to their room, and looked at the pictures all the time, and then, finally, decided they were done and put it into the pile to donate. At which point I retrieved it, and finally got to finish.

The text is "meh", three stars at best. There's a few paragraphs about the artists' evolution, followed by
Sep 09, 2014 Gail rated it it was amazing
This has some fascinating pieces, and while Escher and Dali are mentioned in the title but it's definitely worth checking out the whole collection of artists featured for the artists whose work you might not have seen. Some of the optical illusions will make your head spin! I also loved this because some of these pieces I'd seen passed around on social media without accreditation (shocking, I know) and now I have seen the entire image of Sandro Del-Prete's "The Message of Dolphins" in addition t ...more
Ioannis Savvas
Feb 14, 2013 Ioannis Savvas rated it it was amazing
Ο οπτικός φλοιός είναι αυτός που ουσιαστικά μάς δίνει το έναυσμα για την οικοδόμηση του κατασκευάσματος μέσα στον εγκέφαλό μας που λέγεται κόσμος. Η τέχνη (κυρίως η ζωγραφική) διεγείρει και ιντριγκάρει τον οπτικό φλοιό. Του παρουσιάζει μια άλλη πραγματικότητα και μερικές φορές την υποκαθιστά. Ίσως μάλιστα η πραγματικότητα της τέχνης να είναι η πραγματική πραγματικότητα.

Το Masters of Deception είναι ένα λεύκωμα της Τέχνης της Παραπλάνησης του οπτικού φλοιού. Πάντως στα παιδιά έχει μεγάλη επίδραση
Jan 19, 2012 April rated it it was amazing
Thorough and surprising, this book was a joy to devour in both the brief artist biographies and the variety of artwork pictured throughout this book as I stood at my duty post in the mornings at school. There were many more new and old artists in the realm of illusion, optical art, and Surrealism (outside of the expected Dali and Escher, for example) I'd never heard of before whose art it was a delight to see and discover for the first time. This book is also a great resource I am sure I will tu ...more
Jul 19, 2010 Glenn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art
I've long been interested in optical illusions. This is a great collection of the works of 20 artists who created various types of art, but not just optical illusions. M.C. Escher and Salvador Dali are two of the represented artists who probably are the most recognizable mainstream names. Well worth checking out if you like art that is different and that sometimes fools your eyes.
Mary Catelli
Dec 06, 2015 Mary Catelli rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
An interesting view of a fair number of artists who engage in trompe l'oeil, double images, impossible perspective, and a lot of other optical tricks. One even works in fonts to produce such things as "Teach" that is reflected as "Learn". Also sculptures that produce shadows or reflections that reveal the significance, or -- from the right angle -- show "impossible" perspective.
Jan 13, 2012 Patricia rated it really liked it
Artists that practice the craft of trompe d'oeuil and anamorphosism have always been some of my favourite artists so this book made me quite happy to briefly learn all their journeys through art and how some of their greater works came to be.
James of the Redwoods
Sep 07, 2008 James of the Redwoods rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Has excellent color prints of many of my favorite artists. The related texts are concise and interesting.

For students of the Renaissance or Rosicrucian history, the section on Giuseppe Arcimboldo makes this book worth a look.
Feb 26, 2012 Quentin rated it really liked it
Great book, but putting links to the website (which no longer exists) on far too many of the pages takes away from the timelessness of a book. Would be better if the website was mentioned once and then move along.

Minor qualm though - other than that it's a good coffee table book.
Sep 08, 2012 Kyle rated it liked it
Shelves: art
Beautiful and elegant examination of 'trick' art.
Oct 30, 2014 Pancakes rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Art lovers
This book is so much fun. There is tons a beauty to be found and crazy things that make your brain do some work. I highly recommend this book for the artist/art lover.
Sep 07, 2012 George rated it it was amazing
Recently bought. Beautiful book with gorgeous and engrossing images and information. A nice addition to my coffee table book collection indeed.
Erika Worley
Jan 21, 2016 Erika Worley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such an amazing book. I really love illusion works and this book is nothing but. Every artist's work is interesting and engaging, and it's wonderful to know about each of them.
Jun 23, 2008 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art
A book I can come back to time and time again, to spend many hours totally absorbed in the intriguing, surprising and entertaining illusions by the many masters of deception.
Jess Pardue
Sep 05, 2007 Jess Pardue rated it it was amazing
My favorite art book!
Jaime Flores
Feb 17, 2014 Jaime Flores rated it liked it
It amazed me as to how their brains worked to create such beautiful art. I stared at some of the art for minutes trying to visualize such creations and WHY I can't think or do that? Love it!
Aug 02, 2009 Jesse rated it liked it
I am a big fan of optical illusions and this was a really neat look at them in art, not just the goofy pictures in gift books.
Dec 11, 2007 André rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A cool collection of optical illusions in this book, many of them are explained. A fantastic book, although after having read, I never looked at it again.
Nov 09, 2007 Damen rated it liked it
Shelves: aut
Illusions and working with strange materials to create images/eg, through shadows.
Apryl Anderson
Jul 27, 2011 Apryl Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cool, cool book. Sad that the weblink is no longer valid.
Here's a YouTube playlist of most of the artists:
Drew Swearingen
Great coffee table book.
Jun 28, 2014 Allie rated it it was amazing
I received this book as an award when I graduated from my school. It has wonderful examples of numerous artists' work, all focused around one basic theme.
Dec 27, 2008 Melvie rated it really liked it
This book was just visually amazing. I would have like more explanation about the illusions, but the writing was easy to understand. This is a fun book!
Fanette rated it it was amazing
Dec 23, 2014
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