Norman McLaren

3-D images
1944 -- 1946

and

correspondence
1974 -- 1983

NM scholarship Logo 1946
INTRODUCTION: The discovery of stereoscopy was surprisingly late in the history of optics. While earlier scientists observed links between binocular parallax, image disparity, and stereoscopic perception, it was not until Sir Charles Wheatstone's historic paper published in the year 1838 that the three features of binocular vision were linked with the empirical proof provided by his own 3-D drawings.
(See "Stereoscopy: Where Did It Come From? Where Will It Lead?"))

In 1852 the Illustrated London News published an article featuring 3-D drawings.
(Click here for a jpeg of the 1852 article)

But, for the next 90+ years stereoscopy was dominated by photography as the technology of choice, and almost no one seemed to be aware of the artistic possibilities of the medium. That is, until Norman McLaren! For a few short years in the 1940s he created a variety of experimental 3-D drawings and 3-D paintings, which led to his two famous 3-D animated films, NOW IS THE TIME and AROUND IS AROUND, featured at the 1951 Festival of Britain.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Norman McLaren and I corresponded about our love of stereoscopy. I was hoping to publish a book on the subject of stereoscopic drawings, and he very graciously gave me many of his unpublished work and drawings from 1944 to 1946, including early documents on the subject of stereoscopy. Unfortunately, I never finished the project, and these wonderful materials of his have been in my filing cabinet for over thirty years.

A very few contemporary artists currently are exploring the beauty of stereoscopic graphics. The special requirements of 3-D imagery is facilitated by computer graphics, which add new possibilities that are often too difficult for free-hand drawing. Examples of such work are shown on Roger Ferragallo's digital art website.
(Click here for Ferragallo's index page.)

With the forthcoming centenary of McLaren's birth (April 2014), I wanted to make available the material in my possession to scholars and researchers. This webpage seemed the best way for easy access. I hope it will be of value to reveal more facets of his artistic legacy. Arrangements have concluded for a donation of the entire collection to the University of Stirling Library in Scotland as part of their McLaren archive. Click here for more information.

"3D or not 3D?" Just published by Alison Reiko Loader on the blog, ANIMATION STUDES 2.0. Click here.


left image 1
left
right image 1
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left image 1
left
B&W photo of drawing, TWEETER-DORUM-DEE, by Norman McLaren
parallel viewing (L-R) or cross viewing (R-L) stereoscopic formats

HONEY COMB 3D image
Color photo of painting, HONEY COMB, by Norman McLaren
parallel viewing (L-R) or cross viewing (R-L) stereoscopic formats

PORTRAIT 3D image
B&W photo of drawing, PORTRAIT, by Norman McLaren, January 16, 1944
parallel viewing (L-R) or cross viewing (R-L) stereoscopic formats

3D image
B&W photo of drawing, OLD LADY WITH CHAIR, by Norman McLaren, March 1945
parallel viewing (L-R) or cross viewing (R-L) stereoscopic formats

3D image
B&W photo of drawing, MR. J. P., by Norman McLaren, March 1945
parallel viewing (L-R) or cross viewing (R-L) stereoscopic formats

3D image
B&W photo of color painting: ARCHITECTURAL LANDSCAPE (2?) by Norman McLaren
parallel viewing (L-R) or cross viewing (R-L) stereoscopic formats

3D image
B&W photo of drawing, Abstract, by Norman McLaren, January 1945
parallel viewing (L-R) or cross viewing (R-L) stereoscopic formats

3D image
B&W photo of drawing, NEW YORK, by Norman McLaren, January 9, 1945
parallel viewing (L-R) or cross viewing (R-L) stereoscopic formats

3D image
B&W photo of drawing, ARABESQUE, by Norman McLaren
parallel viewing (L-R) or cross viewing (R-L) stereoscopic formats










Link 1: BRIEF BIOGRAPHY NOTE by Norman McLaren, dated May 18, 1973
Link 2: biography by Donald McWilliams
Link 3: letter dated June 18, 1974
Link 4: letter dated August 8, 1980
Link 5: letter dated May 12, 1982
Link 6: letter dated July 24, 1982
Link 7: two postcards dated 1982
Link 8: unpublished document: STEREOGRAPHIC ART, dated 1946
Link 8: lost 3-D painting: ARCHITECTURAL LANDSCAPE
Link 10: document: SPACE CONTROL
Link 11: original manuscript for SMPTE article, Dec. 1951

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updated March 22, 2014