Designer: Jim Steinmeyer
Modern Art is described and detailed in Steinmeyer’s booklet Modern Art and other Mysteries. Owners of this book are authorized to build and perform this illusion. You may also contact Jim Steinmeyer directly to find a recommended builder.
An assistant is crammed into a tiny, upright, wedge-shaped cabinet. Alongside the cabinet is a table. The assistants hands, face, and feet are visible throughout the illusion. Once inside, the magician places a sword along the side of the cabinet from front to back. The top half of the cabinet is then slid across the blade, dividing the lady in two. The magician opens the doors to the cabinet and reveals that she is cleanly divided in two. The top is replaced and the assistant emerges unharmed.
This illusion was first created in 1974. Jim Steinmeyer built the prototype in his basement. Modern art has undergone at least 5 major revisions to get to the point at which it exists as we know it. Steinmeyer’s inspiration for the effect came from Harbin’s Zig Zag Girl. Jim’s second version was smaller and more refined and used on stage by illusionist James Royal. Doug Henning saw this and purchased it for use on one of his annual television specials. Steinmeyer then created the third revision after this point. Through the first 3 revisions, Modern Art was more of a girl cut in half without a cabinet. In these early stages, he called the illusion “Splitting.” Years went by and Jim revisited the illusion once again. He realized that by minimizing the prop, it was actually working against the overall illusion effect. He then returned to his original notion of using a full cabinet.
Photo shows the Spencers performing this illusion.