6. Kumi Yamashita – Clouds, 2005
A romantic, somewhat impressionist realization of a feathery shadow.
Shadows are the most natural occurrence in our world filled with light. Whether there is sun or artificial lighting, no one can separate themselves from their shadow, they are around us and with us, dark imprints of all three dimensional creations, animate or not. Shadows can be very light or dark, blurry or clear-cut, depending on the lighting, they come in different shapes, and a long time ago man realized that things that cannot merge in reality, can easily merge as shadows, giving out another, new and completely unexpected shapes. We have all played with our hands in childhood, making all kinds of shadow animals with our fingers, but as we grow up, shadows easily fall out of focus as something entertaining. It’s only with the emergence of shadow art, that we are again turned to these amazing volatile visuals. Shadows are illusions, and just like any type of illusionism, people just love it.
Although shadows are two-dimensional, shadow art is actually a sculptural art form, because a three-dimensional object is needed to cast the perfect shadow onto a designated wall. Sculptures artists make as shadow makers can be made from any type of material – plaster, wire, recycled materials, plastic, paper, any type of media that can be shaped in order to create the perfect outline. Often, these sculptures are designed with the help of computer graphics, but they are executed in real, tangible medium. One shadow can be cast by a multitude of big or small objects, and the position of lighting must be calculated within the design. The final outcome is usually a stunning game of light, which shining over something ordinary or absurd, makes the most wonderful shadow art formations.
Shadow art is gaining popularity in recent years and there is an increasing number of artists delving into this expression. Some of them are Kumi Yamashita, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Shigeo Fukuda and Larry Kagan, all of whom show in which way can various materials be used to create fantastic shadow effects.
1. Fabrizio Cornelli – Flying Felix, 2011
Shadows can be used as line, which shows in the work of Fabrizio Cornelli.
2. Fabrizio Cornelli Shadow Art
Only small relief strips are enough to make a shadow portrait gallery.
3. Kumi Yamashita – Akari, 2009
A beautiful double installation of Mother and Child, realized with a help of a thin, chiseled relief strip.
4. Kumi Yamashita – Building Blocks, 1997
This early work of Yamashita was made with the help of wooden toy blocks arranged in the perfect order. It was much harder to plan shadow art before the computers we have today.
5. Kumi Yamashita – Chair, 2010
shadow of a man appears very realistic, we cannot help but seek for an actual man.
7. Kumi Yamashita – Lovers, 1999
Only two thing relief strips make two people running together. Amazing.
8. Kumi Yamashita – Origami, 2011
Yamashita proves shadows can be made with paper, in his Origami series.
9. Kumi Yamashita – UNTITLED-CHILD, 2011
Toy numbers are also a good material for shadow art making.
10. Kumi Yamashita – Veil, 2013 – installation
Veil is a shadow installation by Kumi Yamashita, realized only with a help of a draped piece of fabric. This is what it looks from afar.
11. Kumi Yamashita – Veil, 2013 – side look
Approaching the installation and looking from the side, we see a profile.
12. Kumi Yamashita – Veil, 2013
The full effect is seen once we concentrate on the shadow made by the veil.
13. Larry Kagan – Art
Larry Kagan is a veteran in shadow art, whereas he makes his shadow drawings with wire.
14. Larry Kagan – Cat shadow
This amazing piece shows you can use wire to achieve a full shadow without “holes”, i.e. lit parts.
15. Larry Kagan – Great book
This book looks like a real drawing, but it’s actually a cast wire shadow.
16. Larry Kagan – Lucky Strikes
A pack of famous cigarettes is here, made of a wire yarn.
17. Larry Kagan – Ode to Keith
Kagan expresses his admiration and appreciation of the Keith Haring legacy.
18. Larry Kagan – Point Guard
It’s inspiring to see how a human figure can be literally drawn by wire shadow fixtures.
19. Larry Kagan – Pump
Female shoe – why not!
20. Larry Kagan – Freedom
For freedom of expression and art!
21. Monument shadow
Sometimes, only a small intervention is enough to make shadow art in the immediate surroundings. This monument has another life through its nightly doppelganger.
22. Shigeo Fukuda – Fish Writing
The late Japanese graphic designer and artist made a series of shadow sculptures in life, as well as illusionistic works that need to be seen in a mirror.
23. Tim Noble and Sue Webster – Nihilistic Optimistic
The shadow art duo made a spectacular exhibition with recycled materials depicting strikingly realistic human shadows.
24. Tim Noble and Sue Webster – Nihilistic Optimistic
View of their installation Nihilistic Optimistic, a funny word play.
25. Tim Noble and Sue Webster – Rats
The passionate rats are made of actual scraps.
26. Tim Noble and Sue Webster – Ship shadow
Fantastic ship shadow conjured by the duo.
27. Tim Noble and Sue Webster – Sunset over Manhattan
A brilliant commentary on the nature of big cities, filled with refute.
28. Tim Noble and Sue Webster – Taxidermy animals, couple
Eerie material to depict a romantic scene – anything can be done with shadows!
29. Tim Noble and Sue Webster – Taxidermy animals
An eerie material gives an eerie subject – luckily there were no real heads impaled.
30. Tim Noble and Sue Webster – Wild Mood Swings
A phenomenal depiction of a couple’s fight, with nothing by scrap wood! Spectacular!