Classic illusion books


Here’s another rotating head illusion, just to introduce a list of my favourite illusion books. It’s not one you’ll find in the books, because I only just drew it.  Still, that leaves plenty of old illusions, and there are stacks of fun books on the subject, many of them excellent. Here are some I think are real classics:

Richard GREGORY, Eye and Brain: the psychology of seeing (5th Ed.) OUP 1998

The standard introduction to vision and illusions, say, sixth form to first year college level, authoritative but great fun.


J.O.ROBINSON, The Psychology of Visual Illusion, New Ed., Dover Pubs, 1998

A bit more technical, but with a comprehensive selection of geometric illusions.


Jacques NINIO, The Science of Illusions, Cornell Uni Press 2001

Another fascinating general introductory text, by an eminent researcher


Roger N. SHEPARD, Mind Sights, Freeman and Co. 1990

An enchanting book of drawings of impossible worlds with commentary by another distinguished scientist


Bruno ERNST, Impossible Worlds PLUS Optical Illusions, Taschen, 2006

An edition of two books in one, both of them helpful for understanding the basis of M.C.Escher’s architectural puzzle pictures.


Doris SCHATTSCHNEIDER, M.C.Escher, Visions of symmetry, Thames and Hudson 2004

The standard technical, authoritative but beautifully illustrated book on M.C.Escher’s tiling patterns


Julian ROTHENSTEIN, The Playful Eye, Redstone Press 1999

Exquisite, giant colour reproductions from nineteenth century puzzle picture books of all kinds


Al SECKEL, Masters of Deception, Sterling Pub. Co. New York, 2004

Great collection of reproductions of work by contemporary artists based on a wide variety of illusions.  Al Seckel has published stacks of other collections of historic and modern versions of old and new illusions, and all the ones I’ve seen have been excellent.


Dawn ADES and others, The Endless Enigma, Dali and the Masters of Multiple Meaning, Hatje Cantz (Germany) 2003

English Translation of the catalogue for an exhibition in Dusseldorff, the best survey of ambiguous images from world art.  So it’s brilliant for Arcimboldo and Dali, but also for loads of less well known artists.  (The German title is Das Endlose Raetsel).