Art: Fool-the-Eye Realism

"Please do not touch!" reads the sign posted beside the display of still lifes on exhibit in the University of Wisconsin's Library Gallery in Madison. But the fascinating assortment of smoking pipes, fiddles, Confederate bills, newspaper scraps and crumpled chewing-gum wrappers—all seeming to leap out of the canvases in vivid perspective—is too tempting. Furtively many a viewer last week glanced around to see if anyone was watching, then probed gently at the paintings to see whether the pictures actually were painted or just pasted on.

The 3-D still lifes were the work of...

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