Image with Commentary

September 2014

Discussions of reality, artifice and illusion chronicle the history of art. What part of reality is seen, felt and depicted? What part of an artist's visual reality can be attributed to visual impairment?

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) had gradual diminishing vision caused by cataracts, which some believe caused the fuzziness and yellow tones of his later self-portraits. Perhaps the late paintings by Vincent Van Gogh (1853-90) show the halos of glaucoma and a yellow saturation of digitalis toxicity. Might the beautiful blurred paintings by Claude Monet (1840-1926) result from diminishing vision caused by cataracts? Did this style change after cataract surgery in 1920?

The photograph shows a digital transformation of two surgeons. Does this distorted image represent art, artifice, illusion or visual impairment? (2014)

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