One of the most amazing applications of the painting principles developed in the Renaissance is a process called “anamorphosis,” which is still used today in art, road signs, sports adverstising and more.
Felice Varini, Carrés dans le passage, bleu, 2013, HAB Galerie, Nantes
Anamorphosis is the process by which the shape of an image is changed so that it can only be seen from one specific point of view.
The best-known example of anamorphosis from the Renaissance is a painting by Hans Holbein the Younger entitled The Ambassadors. At the bottom of this painting, there is a strange shape in front of the two men
Hans Holbein the Younger, The Ambassadors, 1533, The National Gallery, London
That shape is actually a skull that only looks normal when you look at the painting from the side:
The same principle is used for all the words and images painted on roads, so that drivers can see them clearly. Take this bicycle, for example. On the left, you have the image painted on the road seen from above, with wheels that are not round, and on the right you have the same image seen from the driver’s point of view, in which the wheels look round:
All of the ads on rugby pitches and other sports grounds are designed in the same way. They only look normal from the point of view of the cameras, so that TV spectators can see them. This ad for J.P. Morgan, for instance, is actually just a flat painting that looks like a 3D board thanks to anamorphosis:
One of the coolest examples of anamorphic signage was created by Alex Peemoeller and Emery Studio for the car park of the Eureka Tower in Melbourne in 2006:
According to Emery Studio, the inspiration for this design is the work of Felice Varini, an artist who has been specializing in large scale anamorphosis since the 1970s:
Felice Varini, Deux cercles concentriques, rouge n.1, 1992, Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris
Felice Varini, Huit rectangles, 2007, Musée des beaux arts, Arras – Source: varini.org
In the end, anamorphosis is like a lot of things in life. It only makes sense if you change your point of view.
Joseph Egan and Hunter Thomson, It’s a Point of View, 2010, Chelsea School of Art and Design – Source: designboom.com