The Magic of Knowledge

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What is magic?

A performing art that involves the use of illusion to entertain audiences with tricks, effects, or illusions of seemingly impossible feats, using natural means

Who is considered the 'Father' of modern entertainment magic?

Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin

What is the Golden Age of Magic?

A period of time when magicians achieved widespread commercial success

What is the Magic Circle?

A performing arts organization

What is the methodology behind magic often referred to as?

A type of science

What is the difference between a magician and an illusionist?

Illusionists believe it is unethical to give a performance that claims to be anything other than a clever and skillful deception

What are some types of magic?

Corporate magic, gospel magic, and street magic

What is the Magic Collectors' Association?

An organization that promotes and advances the art of stage magic

What are some notable public research collections on magic?

The R. B. Robbins Collection of Stage Magic and Conjuring and the H. Adrian Smith Collection of Conjuring and Magicana

Study Notes

Magic: An Overview

  • Magic is a performing art that involves the use of illusion to entertain audiences with tricks, effects, or illusions of seemingly impossible feats, using natural means.

  • It is one of the oldest performing arts in the world, and modern entertainment magic, as pioneered by 19th-century magician Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin, has become a popular theatrical art form.

  • During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, magicians such as Maskelyne and Devant, Howard Thurston, Harry Kellar, and Harry Houdini achieved widespread commercial success during what has become known as "the Golden Age of Magic."

  • The world's largest-selling publication for magicians, Magic magazine, curated a list of the "100 most influential magicians of the 20th century" to have contributed to the modern development of the art of magic, with Houdini holding the first rank.

  • Magic tricks can be categorized into various categories, such as making something disappear, transforming objects, predicting the choice of a spectator, or escaping from a restraining device.

  • Among the earliest books on the subject is Gantziony's work of 1489, Natural and Unnatural Magic, which describes and explains old-time tricks.

  • The "Father" of modern entertainment magic was Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, who transformed his art from one performed at fairs to a performance that the public paid to see at the theatre.

  • Towards the end of the century, large magic shows permanently staged at big theatre venues became the norm, with British performer J N Maskelyne and his partner Cooke being established at the Egyptian Hall in London's Piccadilly in 1873 by their manager William Morton.

  • The Magic Circle was formed in London in 1905 to promote and advance the art of stage magic.

  • Famous magicians of the 20th century included Okito, David Devant, Harry Blackstone Sr., Harry Blackstone Jr., Howard Thurston, Theodore Annemann, Cardini, Joseph Dunninger, Dai Vernon, Fred Culpitt, Tommy Wonder, Siegfried & Roy, and Doug Henning.

  • Popular 20th- and 21st-century magicians include David Copperfield, Lance Burton, James Randi, Penn and Teller, David Blaine, Criss Angel, Hans Klok, Derren Brown and Dynamo.

  • Magic is often described according to various specialties or genres, such as stage illusions, parlor magic, close-up magic, escapology, pickpocket magic, mentalism, and theatrical séances.

  • Many of the principles of stage magic are old, but modern performers have vanished objects as large as the Taj Mahal, the Statue of Liberty, and a space shuttle, using other kinds of optical deceptions.Overview of Magic and Its Types

  • Magic is a performing art that entertains audiences by creating illusions of seemingly impossible or supernatural feats using natural means.

  • There are various types of magic, including children's magic, online magic, mathemagic, corporate magic, gospel magic, street magic, bizarre magic, shock magic, comedy magic, quick-change magic, camera magic, classical magic, and mechanical magic.

  • Magicians describe the type of tricks they perform in various ways, and the methodology behind magic is often referred to as a science while the performance aspect is more of an art form.

  • Learning magic can teach confidence, creativity, work ethic, and responsibility. Interested individuals can join magic clubs or professional magicians' organizations to learn new techniques, discuss all aspects of magic, and perform for each other.

  • Some modern illusionists believe that it is unethical to give a performance that claims to be anything other than a clever and skillful deception, and they therefore eschew the term "magician" in favor of "illusionist" or similar descriptions.

  • Fraudulent mediums, faith healers, con men, and grifters may use techniques of stage magic for fraudulent goals, such as cheating at card games, the shell game, and luring people into betting on seemingly simple propositions.

  • There are controversies among performers regarding the use of deceptive practices and the differences of opinion on magic effects.

  • Famous magicians include David Copperfield, Penn & Teller, Harry Houdini, James Randi, and Derren Brown.Researching Magic: Resources and Collections

  • Researching magic can be challenging due to the lack of publicly available resources and the private nature of many collections.

  • The Magic Collectors' Association and Conjuring Arts Research Center are organizations that bring together collectors, writers, and researchers of magic history.

  • Performance magic was a significant part of popular culture from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries, and many performances and performers can be traced through newspapers of the time.

  • Many books have been written about magic tricks, and specialized stores catering to the needs of magic performers offer a wide range of titles.

  • Some notable public research collections on magic include the WG Alma Conjuring Collection at the State Library of Victoria, the R. B. Robbins Collection of Stage Magic and Conjuring at the State Library of NSW, the H. Adrian Smith Collection of Conjuring and Magicana at Brown University, and the Carl W. Jones Magic Collection at Princeton University.

  • The WG Alma Conjuring Collection contains over 7,000 books, manuscripts, and ephemera related to magic and conjuring.

  • The R. B. Robbins Collection of Stage Magic and Conjuring includes over 3,000 books, periodicals, and other materials related to magic history.

  • The H. Adrian Smith Collection of Conjuring and Magicana contains over 15,000 items related to the history of magic and includes rare books, manuscripts, and ephemera.

  • The Carl W. Jones Magic Collection includes over 1,500 items related to the history of magic, including books, posters, and photographs.

  • The Conjuring Arts Research Center offers its members access to a searchable database of rare books and periodicals related to magic history.

  • The Magic Collectors' Association publishes a quarterly magazine and hosts an annual convention for collectors, writers, and researchers of magic history.

  • Specialized stores catering to the needs of magic performers include Tannen's Magic in New York City and Davenports Magic in London.

Test your knowledge on the fascinating world of magic with this quiz! From the history of magic to its various types and genres, as well as resources and collections for researching the art, this quiz covers it all. Challenge yourself and see how much you know about the tricks, illusions, and performances that have captivated audiences for centuries.

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