Max Auzinger is credited with inventing, or at least popularizing, the Black Art Act.
The Black Art Act uses a theatrical principle of concealment- with stage lights slightly pointed toward the audience, it is virtually impossible to distinguish the edges of a black cloth when held against a black backdrop. Therefore, any object that is held behind the cloth will disappear; any object that is made to peek from behind the cloth will appear. Because of the stage lights, the black cloth is not seen, and it looks as though the object really appears and vanishes into thin air.
Auzinger first performed this act in 1885, dressed in his unique outfit of flowing white robes and turban-wrapped wizard hat. He performed first as "Maxistan a-Uzinger" with his show of "Egyptian and Indian Wonders", but was most famous as "Ben Ali Bey".
Legend has it that Auzinger created the Black Art Act using his daughter's toys as props. His daughter, Leopoldine, sometimes assisted in her father's show in the late 1880's, featured as the mysterious "Sulamith".
Auzinger was not the only magician to find success with a Black Art act. In 1886, Bautier De Kolta performed a similar act at the Egyptian Hall. Likewise, a young William Robinson (later famous as Chung Ling Soo), started his own career as "Achmend Ben Ali", doing his version of the act.
Black Art is still widely used in both theatrical productions and in magic illusions today.
Credit: This biography originated on MagicTricks.com. Please credit this source if you use this information.