Remember the happy face? Well if you do, you’re dating yourself, since it
first appeared in 1971 and has barely been out of fashion since. Fletcher Smith,
who has borrowed from pop culture icons since his East Village days, has
repurposed smiley to literally make a point. Is this some punishing beach ware
or a proposed symbol for the above referenced age of nice? Does the happy face
perhaps have a darker side? In any case, it’s nice to know you can still buy
happiness, in this installation any ways, by the row.
Laugh It Off, Curated by Jane Scott, Girl Wonder Inc., Walter Maciel Gallery
WHEN FILIPPO BRUNELLESCHI (1377–1446) invented and
mathematically described the artistic technique of geo-
metrical perspective, he revolutionized painting, allowing
for the naturalistic representation of single unified ed scenes
to develop. Anamorphism—the study of distorted projec-
tions or drawings that become visible when viewed from
a particular perspective or with a special mirror—was a
natural outgrowth of this intense interest in visual per-
spective. The scientist-artists of the period—for example,
Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) and Albrecht Dürer (1471–
1528)—attempted to apply mathematical and physical
principles to the art of perspective, considering cases of
extreme perspective (optic anamorphosis) and distor-
tions produced by reflection in mirrors of various forms
Anamorphic art was a popular form of both serious art and visual
entertainment beginning in the sixteenth century. While its methods
and geometrical elucidation belong to the seventeenth century, it was
most practiced as a serious art form in the eighteenth century, one that
often used anamorphism to manipulate an image so that the true mes-
sage, often political in nature, was readable only by the initiated. By the
nineteenth century, it was almost completely relegated to the nursery
as an amusement for children. Nevertheless, it retains some popularity
today, and a small coterie of artists still practice it.
The earliest known anamorphoses were those of da Vinci and took
the form of a laterally stretched child’s face and a sketch of an eye.
Today anamorphoses are actually commonplace in busy cities. The traf-
fic directions and symbols that are painted on roadways are distorted
anamorphically. The typical form of anamorphic display seen today
requires reflection in a mirror for reconstruction of the image.
Of the possible types of display, the cylindrical mirror is the most common.
Jim Hunt “Anamorphic Art in the Time of Shakespeare “