Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Scissor Work

This is an example of scherenschnitte, or scissor-cut paper art. I like the stark white on black image. As far as I can tell, it's a fantasy plant, with the creepy fringed projections like carnivorous Venus flytraps, and the thistle-like crown. I assume this is a child's work, since it's a relatively simple. You can see that it was folded vertically before cutting to achieve the symmetry, and there are pinpricks at the base. One little spray on the left side has fallen off and has slipped into the base at lower left.

Scissor work is a really widespread practice, and folks have been at it for centuries. Portrait silhouettes were among the first affordable likenesses, and some of those artists, like August Edouart, are well-known to collectors. Their products were called shades, shadowgraphs and scissortypes.

There was a prolific scissor cut artist from South Carolina named Carew Rice, who depicted Southern scenes.

And the contemporary artist Kara Walker uses large-scale cutouts as her medium. I don't know that she uses scissors, but she cuts a lot more than paper.


  1. Kara's work stirs it up. I was seated with her mother at a MOCAGA benefit; she's charming, great sense of humor.

  2. I like the black and white contrast on grey background.