In America, silhouettes were highly popular from about 1790 to 1840. They consisted mostly of “portraits” that were cutouts on black paper put against a light background. This was often the work of specialist artists, working out of booths at fairs or markets. A traditional silhouette portrait artist would cut the likeness of a person, freehand, within a few minutes.
I love that the original silhouette portraits were named after Étienne de Silhouette, a French finance minister who, in 1759, was forced by France’s credit crisis during the Seven Years’ War to impose severe economic demands upon the French people, particularly the wealthy. Because of de Silhouette’s austere economies, his name became synonymous with anything done or made cheaply and so with these outline portraits.
In creating my silhouette art cut-outs, transparencies and small objects are placed on an overhead projector, projected onto a wall, paper or material and then photographed.