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Many artists attempt to represent the visual world, and to create the appearance of a three-dimensional space within their picture, which is painted on a two-dimensional surface.

The term illusionism is generally confined to those attempts to deceive which surpass the realistic ambitions usual with artists, as by the device of a hand apparently projecting from a painting. Actual deceit, as distinct from the suspension of disbelief, is rare and usually referred to as 'trompe-l'oeil'.