You might have heard of ‘anamorphic’ art if you’re a fan of the incredible Odeith; one of the biggest names in the urban anamorphic style!
If you haven’t heard of him or the anamorphic style then you’re about to be in for a treat because anamorphic art is totally mesmerising; it leaves passersby and street art lovers alike wondering how on earth the artist could breathe such life and 3D-realism into a piece of 2D art. Put simply, it’s art-based eye-trickery – and it’s addictive.
In fact, artist John Pugh (#5 on the list) says it best when he explains: “It seems almost universal that people take delight in being visually tricked.”
But what actually is anamorphic art? And who’s doing it?
I’ma tell you everything you need to know!
What Is Anamorphism?
Anamorphism is defined as, “producing, relating to, or marked by intentional distortion of an image”.
What Does That Mean?
Well, put simply, it is intentional distortion of perspective; a type of optical illusion that is best viewed from one particular vantage point to get the full effect. Usually, it’s actually best viewed through a camera lens or a phone screen as the full effect isn’t always as clear to the naked eye. Most of the time the image doesn’t appear to even make sense from a conventional viewpoint (straight facing the work), therefore the viewer has to stand in exactly the right obscure position to get the full image.
What Is Anamorphism in Art?
Anamorphism in art is using this trick of distorting perspective to create artwork that is one big optical illusion. This can be done with chalk on the floor, paint on a wall, or even pencil on paper. Basically, any flat surface can be used to create a 3D piece of artwork that looks like it’s coming off of the surface… literally going beyond its own 2D boundaries.
What’s super cool about it is that many anamorphic pieces are made to be not only visually interactive but also physically interactive… meaning lots of selfies of happy people standing on the work looking as if they’re part of it. You know you’d do it too!
birdO wears a bird mask and loves to combine animal characters and geometric-inspired patterns, which makes for pretty cool viewing. However, this one really stands out because of the contrast between the turquoise background and the amazing multi-coloured patterns on the snake’s body.
And check out the shadow on the floor!
2. Alex Maksiov
Alex Maksiov is from the Ukraine and has won various awards for his 3D work. I love the little bird and the fact the water looks like it’s solid yet liquid at the same time. The water is also a really nice shade of pastel blue (I love pastel shades)… and the whole thing looks really realistically 3D!
3. John Pugh
John Pugh specialises in ‘trompe-l’œil‘ which isn’t strictly anamorphism, but is still related and has a similar effect. ‘Trompe-l’œil’ means ‘deceiving the eye‘, and usually means the viewer standing in a conventional position (i.e. in front of it) and being deceived into thinking what they are seeing is actual reality (like this) – from any other viewpoint it distorts.
It was actually something Italian Renaissance painters did a lot with church ceilings, making it look like the ‘heavens’ were directly above the room.
4. Kurt Wenner
This guy has been going for years and his work is some of the most intricate and finely detailed anamorphism around. Search his name on Google and you’ll find so many awe-inspiring pieces that it’s hard to believe one person could paint with such skill!
His ability to recreate Renaissance classicism in 3D anamorphic street art really is next-level.
This piece was made for Gears of War – there’s so much detail in the crumbling rock!
Most of Edgar Mueller’s work is dramatic, dark and apocalyptic; like something out of a movie, yet somehow incorporates a lot of very detailed nature imagery. And this waterfall look so realistic it’s hard to believe there’s a road underneath it!
I love how realistic this looks; as if the floor is made of sand and the bottle has just sunk into it. Most of Julian Beever’s work is chalk on solid pavement, and generally takes around four days to do a big piece (though it can take more if any of the chalk wipes away before it’s finished).
German-born Manfred Stader creates huge anamorphic street pieces all over the world. I love the shine on this coffee cup and how it glistens as if it were real china. Also, the real coffee beans on top is a pretty cool addition, as it just adds to the hyper-realism… it actually looks like he’s kneeling on a big cup!
8. Leon Keer
Leon Keer is almost as well-known as Odeith these days, and it’s because these two create artwork that you just don’t see being done by anybody else. A lot of Leon’s work looks almost as if it’s a ghost… like a memory of a past moment that is lingering but won’t fully fade away.
At the same time it looks totally 3D, and combined together it makes for a very interesting aesthetic. I think it’s because he uses a softer style that comes across as a little more cartoonish. It could also be because he doesn’t just use chalk or acrylic, he uses a variety of different mediums – from professional acrylic paints to adhesives, solvents, primers and tar. It gives his images variety.
I’m really excited because he’s going to be at the Upfest street art festival in Bristol this year (which I’ll be reporting on) so I’ll get to see him paint live!
Tracy Lee Stum works primarily in chalk, and curated the first annual 3D Chalk Festival (in New Jersey) showcasing 14 renowned international 3D street art & chalk artists. She also won a Guinness World Record in 2016 for the biggest street painting by an individual!
There’s something quite dreamlike about this piece in the photo, yet it is still very realistic.
The Portuguese artist Odeith comes in at #10 because he’s the guy most people know (and definitely one of my favourites).
Odeith’s anamorphic graff writing is truly unique… and the way he paints across wall corners so the words look like they’re 3D and floating is pretty mind-blowing. Odeith and Kurt Wenner do two very different styles but I think they tie for uniqueness and sheer skill.
However, every artist on this list is worthy of you searching for more of their work so make sure you click on the name of each one to visit their Instagram page… and leave me a comment on the Graffiti Kings Facebook page if you think I missed any major ones out!