Oscar Reutersvärd, the Father of “Impossible Figures”

Category : Inspiration · No Comments · by May 1, 2014

Oscar Reutersvärd

Left: Sketch by Oscar Reutersvärd, Opus 1 (1934) – Source: Impossible World. 1 May 2014.

Middle: Poster for the Hommange a Oscar Reutersvärd, by the Galerie Bell’Art, Stockholm (2001) – Source: Galerie Bell’Art, Stockholm. 1 May 2014.

Right: Sketch by Oscar Reutersvärd, Opus 2B (1934) – Source: Impossible World. 1 May 2014.

For as long as I can remember, “impossible figures” have been one of my passions. I was first introduced to the world of the impossible figure by works of M.C. Escher. Due to his widespread prominence, other impossible artists have, unfortunately, been eclipsed by his immense shadow.

While searching for more obscure artists, I was pleased to discover Oscar Reutersvärd – a Swedish artist who became widely known as the “father of impossible figures.” He pioneered the art of 3D drawings which may initially appear feasible, yet cannot be physically constructed. His first impossible figure was the “impossible triangle,” which he created out of a series of cubes in 1934. The triangle at first seems like a simple geometrical shape. However, as the eye tries to follow its outlines, the triangle abruptly becomes a dizzying experience – as its bottom link plays havoc with the brain’s intuitive knowledge of physical laws. Since that initial creation he went on to develop more than 2,500 impossible figures.

It was with great surprise and satisfaction that I stumbled upon Oscar’s “Window in the Floor” series. An attempt to describe this series will seriously not do it justice. A picture is worth a thousand words – so, below are some of Oscar’s drawings from the series.

Oscar Reutersvärd, "Window in the Floor"

Gallery of “Window on the Floor” series, by Oscar Reutersvärd. 2001-2013. – Source: Impossible World. 1 May 2014.

These drawings are just amazing to me. They are so amazing, in fact, that they have rekindled my own interest in drawing impossible figures. I find it fascinating that a series of simple lines drawn on a piece of paper can yield such amazing results.

Here are a few sketches of my own inspired by Oscar’s “Window in the Floor” series.

Lars Shaw Impossible Inspiration

If you wish to see more of Oscar Reutervärd’s work, visit Impossible World. In addition to Oscar’s work there are works of other impossible artists to be enjoyed.