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Art of Illusion: Photography and Perceptual Play
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Art of Illusion: Photography and Perceptual Play

Do photographs accurately convey visual truths? Or do they merely present illusions? The artists featured in this exhibition explore these ideas and challenge our understanding of the saying, “seeing is believing.” Using a range of technical and conceptual approaches, and working almost exclusively without darkroom manipulation or digital editing software, their works highlight the complex relationship between reality, visual perception, and camera vision. The majority of included works date from the early 1970s to the present.

Drawn from the museum’s renowned photography collection, Art of Illusion will feature approximately fifty works by twenty-five artists, including many recent acquisitions on view for the first time. Artists include: Thomas Barrow, Zeke Berman, Michael Bishop, Cortis & Sonderegger, Robert Cumming, Thomas Demand, John Divola, Liat Elbling, David Hockney, Graham Howe, Kenneth Josephson, Lilly McElroy, Jerry McMillan, Duane Michels, Arno Minkkinen, Abelardo Morell, Grant Mudford, Vik Muniz, John Pfahl, Marcia Resnick, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Michel Szulc-Krzyzanowski, Lew Thomas, Ruth Thorne-Thomsen, and Rodrigo Valenzuela.

Organized by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, this exhibition is supported by the Hall Family Foundation.

Media Partner: The Independent

Lilly McElroy (American, born 1980). I Control the Sun #18, 2016. Inkjet print. 17 1/16 x 17 1/16 inches. Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 2020.5.4.

Exhibition Programs

The Curator is IN
Art of Illusion
Friday, December 3
7-7:30 p.m.
7:30-8 p.m.
*Meet in Photography Gallery L11

The Curator is IN! series features Nelson-Atkins curators in casual talks that highlight the museum’s permanent collection galleries and free exhibitions.

Do photographs accurately convey visual truths? Or do they merely present illusions? Join April Watson, Curator, Photography, to discuss works by exhibition artists who explore these ideas and challenge our understanding of the saying, “seeing is believing.”

John Pfahl, American (1939-2020). Australian Pines, Fort DeSoto, Florida, 1977. Inkjet print (printed 2016), 14 x 13/16 x 19 inches. Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 2016.75.235.