In Profile: A Look at Silhouettes

Friday, January 17th, 2020 - Sunday, April 5th, 2020

The art of silhouettes—at first, black profiles either cut from paper or painted—emerged as a popular form of portraiture in 19th-century America when there were few trained portrait painters. Drawn mostly from New-York Historical’s significant collection, In Profile: A Look at Silhouettes traces the development of this popular art form and explores its contemporary revival. The exhibition showcases works by professional practitioners, like master of the genre Augustin Edouart, Charles Willson Peale, and Moses Williams—a Peale family slave who earned his freedom and worked producing silhouettes at the Peale Museum. Also featured are self-trained artists such as the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen and Martha Anne Honeywell—a woman born without arms and only three toes, who created intricate paper cut-outs, needlework, and penmanship in works that played with contradictions between ability and disability. Contemporary works by Béatrice Coron, James Prosek, Kumi Yamashita, and Kara Walker, who uses silhouettes to investigate the legacy of slavery, reveal the art form’s powerful reemergence. (Curated by Roberta J.M. Olson, curator of drawings) 

Tue - Thu 10am - 6pm
Fri 10am - 8pm
Sat 10am - 6pm
Sun 11am - 5pm

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street)

New York, NY

40.7792476, -73.9742792