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Béatrice Coron: an introduction to papercutting

Take a piece of paper: a perfect support for an image.

Cut or draw or paint or print or use all techniques to produce an image.

Then fold the paper. You now have a book, or a sculpture, or an animation.

Paper includes support, movement, interaction..


    Papercutting is the best-known ignored medium in use everywhere in the world. You certainly are familiar with some of its different forms.

    In China, jiezhi, is a brightly-cut then colored paper; this folk art decorates the house at the occasion of the lunar New Year.In Japan, Kirie (cut paper), Kirigami (cut & folded paper), and Katazome (stencil for textile prints) are simple yet sophisticated techniques. Kirie tradition lives on in modern and new styles.

    Jewish culture has a long tradition of cut paper, as with "ketubah" wedding contracts, where papercutting is sometimes mixed with calligraphy and painting.

    In Switzerland and Germany, Scherenschnitte depict rural scenes in black & white, as well as portraits.

    In Holland, paper carving is known as "papiersnyden."

    In France, Louis the XV's unpopular Minister of Finance, Etienne de Silhouette, cut so many budgets that inexpensive, paper portraits are named after him.

    In Poland, Wycinanki is layered, brightly-colored paper used as decoration, especially for Christmas and Easter.

    The papercutting traditions traveled back and forth from Turkey, North Africa, India, and Asia but were not unknown in the New World. Before their use of paper, Native Americans produced sacred images by cutting amate, the inner bark of fig trees.

    The French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954) used papercutting to make exuberant collages. The American artist, Kara Walker, has used the austerity of silhouettes to reinterpret Uncle Tom's Cabin. The links explore the many facets of papercutting on the internet.

Copyright (c) 2011 Béatrice Coron