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    All Great Star Artists with LeRoy, Talma & Bosco, Colossal Combined Shows (detail) from Magic. 1400s–1950s published by Taschen

Marvellous new Taschen title charts 500 years of mankind's love of magic

Posted by Rob Alderson,

Despite living in a golden age of science and a hacking culture of restless refusal to accept ignorance, human beings retain a taste for being bamboozled. For centuries magicians and illusionists have catered to this appetite and even today a showman like Derren Brown packs theatres to the rafters with his very contemporary brand of “oh my god” befuddlement. But while modern magical stars have slick marketing campaigns, there is a fabulously rich heritage of more interesting visual ephemera around the industry of intrigue.

Taschen’s new release Magic. 1400s–1950s brings together more than 850 paintings, posters, photographs, handbills and engravings to chart the history of humankind’s obsession with being tricked. As ever there’s a heap of expert analysis to make sense of more than half a millennium of magic, but it’s the visuals that take centre stage for us.

Magic. 1400s–1950s is out now.

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    Magic. 1400s–1950s published by Taschen

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    Mike Caveney’s Egyptian Hall Museum Poster for American mindreading star Alexander, 1915 from Magic. 1400s–1950s published by Taschen

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    Strobridge Lithograph Co. poster of the famous American magician Howard Thurston being tutored by demons and goblins, 1916 from Magic. 1400s–1950s published by Taschen

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    Strobridge Lithograph Co. poster of Harry Houdini’s famous Water Torture Cell, 1916 from Magic. 1400s–1950s published by Taschen

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    Strobridge Lithograph Co. poster of famous American magician Howard Thurston, 1915 from Magic. 1400s–1950s published by Taschen

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Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.