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trompe l'oeil: pronounced tromp loy-uh, translates "literally, 'trick the eye'; a rendering of objects that have spatial and tactile qualities; optical technique intended to give an illusion of reality.
"it is a technique rooted in antiquity and used by still-life artists. it was part of the greek and roman empire culture in the second century. a skilled artist is able to trick the eye and make the viewer believe that what he sees are real three-dimensional objects, just like a magician can create illusions and fool her audience...trompe l'oeil is the closest imitation of realism."
while usually an art term, trompe l'oeil can also be used in fashion and design, as seen in the top photo. the painted design above the light fixture suggests a domed ceiling, when in fact, it's just an illusion.

usage examples:
1. what an impressive use of trompe l'oeil in this painting. it looks as if i could walk right through the door into the garden.
2. i just love the trompe l'oeil look on this t-shirt. it's like i'm wearing pearls, but i don't have to actually wear them!

3. to add some pizazz to the dull architecture of her new home, sheri commissioned an artist to create some faux, albeit more interesting trompe l'oeil effects on her ceiling and walls.

this work, by american artist charles wilson peale, gives the illusion of depth, as if the painting is not two, but three dimensional.

this painting, by another american artist, william michael hartnett also suggests a three-dimensional quality. while this is just a painting, it is supposed to look as if one could simply pick up the violin from its peg, and begin playing.

images: 1.trompe-l-oeil-art.com 2.glamour.com 3.charles wilson peale "the artist in his museum" 1822, pennsylvania academy of fine arts 4.william michael hartnett "the old violin" 1886 national gallery of art, washington, d.c.; quoted text via french for le snob: adding panache to your everyday conversations by yvette reche, fall river press.

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