June 3 – October 7

Eisentrager-Howard Gallery

120 Richards Hall
Lincoln, NE

Chaplin Screen Used Matte Painting for Hollywoodland Sign, 1992 by Illusion Arts, photograph and oil on glass and paper


Early American film director Norman Dawn placed a sheet of painted glass in front of a camera to create an illusion. This action promoted the use of matte painting: a painting on either glass or board of a background, landscape, or environment not actually present or even real that seamlessly integrates into live-action footage.

Referred to as the “invisible art,” matte painting is one of the most captivating and invaluable forms of visual eects. Studios and producers originally feared that audiences would feel betrayed if they found out movies were illusions; therefore, matte painters worked independently, keeping techniques of the art to themselves.

Today, matte paintings are no mystery. The transition to digital matte paintings and computer graphics has contributed to this evolution and firmly embedded matte painting into the film-making process. Visual eects enable the imagination to be seen and allow moviegoers to accept implausible scenes.