Oscar Reutersvärd, “the father of the impossible figures,” met with many challenges growing up, but that didn’t stop him from establishing an identity for himself in the world of art. Oscar Reutersvärd came into this world on November 29, 1915 in Stockholm, Sweden, and by 1934, he had pioneered in the art of 3D drawings. However, the world wouldn’t have heard of him if it wasn’t for his parents and his determination to overcome challenges.
Reutersvärd was diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age, which prevented him from accurately estimating the size and distance of objects, but he was determined to follow in the footsteps of his artistic family who encouraged him throughout his life. So, he spent his youth practicing painting and sculpting at home, overcoming his disability.
Reutersvärd’s efforts paid off and early on in his life, he created the “Impossible triangle” at the age of 18. The idea of creating the infamous figure came to him when he was sitting idle in Latin Class. Realizing the importance of the figure and historical impact, he continued to design thousands of impossible figures, which earned him the title of “the father of the impossible figures.” He left the world on February 2, 2002, but his collection of figures stayed behind.
Now, artists study his work to create more derivatives of his original creations and honor him in their own special ways. Reutersvärd’s artistic legacy has stayed behind, but what gave birth to his legacy was the “Impossible Triangle.”
The “Impossible Triangle”
You may also know it as an “impossible figure” or “undecidebale figure.” It’s classified as a type of optical illusion, which is described as a series of cubes sitting parallel to each other. Although, many painters before him had used the figure in their paintings, it was Reutersvärd who unleashed the mayhem of impossible figures, creating 2500 impossible figures in his lifetime. To date, the “impossible triangle” by far is a perfect example of how the human mind interprets a two-
dimensional figure as three-dimensional. He designed this figure by placing a proportional six-pointed star shape in the middle. Around the star, he placed the cubes, filling the empty spaces between the star’s points. The triangular position of the cubes created the 3D illusion, which if viewed for a few seconds longer, exposes the irrationality of the figure. However, the projection of a 3D figure remains apparent even after determining its impossibility. After creating numerous impossible figures, he attracted a large audience interested in his drawings. His work became so popular that in the 1990s, the National Museum of Sweden and Museum of Modern Art custom-built his work to display in their gallery.
If you want to see more of his amazing creations, a quick search on the internet will produce a staggering number of his most famous “impossible figures.”