Trompe l’Oeil Below Canal Street

Kye Christensen-Knowles, “Painting” (2023) 60 x 45 inches

It seems that the “Cubism/ Trompe l’Oeil” show at The Met has had immediate effect——well, not the Cubism part, just the trompe l’oeil part, three out of four galleries I visited the other day were showing it. Whether it’s the artists who have been inspired to create the illusions or it’s the curators who have decided to show it, I’m not sure.
The way Jeremy Shockley does it is by combining scenic painting (meant to be seen at a distance and as a background to another activity) with close-up detailing—the cut edge of the canvas has a delicate fringe. It doesn’t quite work because of the difference in scale and because as in Show Me…, the large area of the painted sky is slipshod. Once you’ve “gotten it”—i.e., recognized the happy face—there is nothing more to see. He is painting a defaced canvas but he leaves out half of the joke of it—which is that it was a painting of the sky to begin with.

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