Anamorphosis is a distorted or monstrous projection or representation of an image on a plane or curved surface, which, when viewed from a certain point, or as reflected from a curved mirror or through a polyhedron, appears regular and in proportion. The word “anamorphosis” is derived from the Greek prefix ana‑, meaning back or again, and the word morphe, meaning shape or form.
There are two main types of anamorphosis: and .
– perspective (oblique): these kind of anamorphosis date to the early Renaissance (fifteenth century).
– mirror (catoptric): examples of mirror anamorphosis were first seen in the late Renaissance (sixteenth century). In these examples a conical or cylindrical mirror is placed on the drawing or painting to transform a flat distorted image into a three-dimensional picture that can be viewed from many angles. The deformed image is painted on a plane surface surrounding the mirror. By looking uniquely into the mirror, the image appears undeformed. This process of anamorphosis makes it possible to diffuse caricatures, erotic and scatological scenes and scenes of sorcery for a confidential public.
Leonardo‘s Eye is the earliest known definitive example of perspective anamorphosis in modern times. The prehistoric cave paintings at Lascaux may also possess this technique because the oblique angles of the cave would otherwise result in distorted figures from a viewer’s perspective. Hans Holbein (one of the artist posted in this blog) the Younger is well known for incorporating this type of anamorphic trick.