30 Examples of Shadow Art

Kumi Yamashita – Clouds 2005
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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.

Fabrizio Cornelli Flying Felix 2011
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1. Fabrizio Cornelli – Flying Felix, 2011

Shadows can be used as line, which shows in the work of Fabrizio Cornelli.

Fabrizio Cornelli Shadow Art
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2. Fabrizio Cornelli Shadow Art

Only small relief strips are enough to make a shadow portrait gallery.

Kumi Yamashita Akari Mother 2009
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3. Kumi Yamashita – Akari, 2009

A beautiful double installation of Mother and Child, realized with a help of a thin, chiseled relief strip.

Kumi Yamashita – Building Blocks 1997
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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.

Kumi Yamashita – Chair 2010
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5. Kumi Yamashita – Chair, 2010

shadow of a man appears very realistic, we cannot help but seek for an actual man.

Kumi Yamashita – Lovers 1999
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7. Kumi Yamashita – Lovers, 1999

Only two thing relief strips make two people running together. Amazing.

Kumi Yamashita Origami 2011
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8. Kumi Yamashita – Origami, 2011

Yamashita proves shadows can be made with paper, in his Origami series.

Kumi Yamashita – UNTITLED CHILD 2011
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9. Kumi Yamashita – UNTITLED-CHILD, 2011

Toy numbers are also a good material for shadow art making.

Kumi Yamashita – Veil 2013 – installation
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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.

Kumi Yamashita Veil 2013 side look
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11. Kumi Yamashita – Veil, 2013 – side look

Approaching the installation and looking from the side, we see a profile.

Kumi Yamashita – Veil 2013
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12. Kumi Yamashita – Veil, 2013

The full effect is seen once we concentrate on the shadow made by the veil.

Larry Kagan Art
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13. Larry Kagan – Art

Larry Kagan is a veteran in shadow art, whereas he makes his shadow drawings with wire.

Larry Kagan Cat shadow
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14. Larry Kagan – Cat shadow

This amazing piece shows you can use wire to achieve a full shadow without “holes”, i.e. lit parts.

Larry Kagan greatbook on
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15. Larry Kagan – Great book

This book looks like a real drawing, but it’s actually a cast wire shadow.

Larry Kagan Lucky Strikes
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16. Larry Kagan – Lucky Strikes

A pack of famous cigarettes is here, made of a wire yarn.

Larry Kagan Ode to Keith
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17. Larry Kagan – Ode to Keith

Kagan expresses his admiration and appreciation of the Keith Haring legacy.

Larry Kagan pointgaurd full
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18. Larry Kagan – Point Guard

It’s inspiring to see how a human figure can be literally drawn by wire shadow fixtures.

Larry Kagan pump on
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19. Larry Kagan – Pump

Female shoe – why not!

Larry Kagan Small Wires big Freedom
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20. Larry Kagan – Freedom

For freedom of expression and art!

Monument shadow
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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.

Shigeo Fukuda fish writing
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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.

Tim Noble and Sue Webster Nihilistic Optimistic
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23. Tim Noble and Sue Webster – Nihilistic Optimistic

The shadow art duo made a spectacular exhibition with recycled materials depicting strikingly realistic human shadows.

Tim Noble and Sue Webster Nihilistic Optimistic 2
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24. Tim Noble and Sue Webster – Nihilistic Optimistic

View of their installation Nihilistic Optimistic, a funny word play.

Tim Noble and Sue Webster Rats
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25. Tim Noble and Sue Webster – Rats

The passionate rats are made of actual scraps.

Tim Noble and Sue Webster Ship shadow
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26. Tim Noble and Sue Webster – Ship shadow

Fantastic ship shadow conjured by the duo.

Tim Noble and Sue Webster Sunset over Manhattan
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27. Tim Noble and Sue Webster – Sunset over Manhattan

A brilliant commentary on the nature of big cities, filled with refute.

Tim Noble and Sue Webster Taxidermy animals couple
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28. Tim Noble and Sue Webster – Taxidermy animals, couple

Eerie material to depict a romantic scene – anything can be done with shadows!

Tim Noble and Sue Webster Taxidermy animals
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29. Tim Noble and Sue Webster – Taxidermy animals

An eerie material gives an eerie subject – luckily there were no real heads impaled.

Tim Noble and Sue Webster Wild Mood Swings
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30. Tim Noble and Sue Webster – Wild Mood Swings

A phenomenal depiction of a couple’s fight, with nothing by scrap wood! Spectacular!

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