Applique Art

30 artworks, 19 artists
Applique (lat. applicatio — attachment), cutout, cut and paste is a technique of arts and crafts based on cutting out figures, silhouettes, patterns and gluing or sewing them onto a background. Various materials are used to create works, including paper, fabric, straw, leather, cloth, felt.

The applique has been used for a long time to decorate clothes, shoes, household items. The art of cutting figures out of paper was very popular in China in the 7—11th centuries; the Europeans called them Chinese shadows. In the Rococo era, the art of silhouette spread in France — the portraits and pictures were cut out of paper. The term itself was named after the French Controller-General of Finances, Étienne de Silhouette, who didn’t invent the art of creating shadow portraits, but was a virtuoso master of the paper cutting technique. The appliques with portrait silhouettes became very popular among the poor who could not afford a pictorial portrait. The artists who worked in this technique created whole openwork paintings — illustrations for books, scenes from life.

Gradually, the applique became a folk art paper craft, because the paper was more or less accessible material to the general population. In Ukraine, by the middle of the 19th century, the art of vytynanka (ukr. витинати (vytynaty) — “to cut out”) became popular, as the pictures were cut out from plain white or coloured paper folded several times. In Belarus, this technique was called vyrazanka (выразанка), in Poland wyklejanka. The themes of such appliques were patterns and floral ornaments, figurines of animals and people, they served to decorate the dwelling.

The art of cut and paste of paper figurines attracted the attention of not only folk craftsmen, but also parents who sought to develop the creative abilities of their children. Applique and mixed techniques have been used by renowned artists such as Mikhail Vrubel, Cubist artists Pablo PicassoJuan Gris and Georges Braque. By the end of the 1910s, Dadaists and Futurists created collages using the applique technique. Silhouette techniques were used by many Russian avant-garde artists, including Alexandra Exter, Olga Rozanova, Lyubov Popova. Being very ill, Henri Matisse turned to the art of cut and paste at the end of his creative path. His first series of appliques, Jazz (1947), was a huge success with the public. “The paper I cut helps me to paint in colour... Instead of drawing an outline and filling it with colour, I paint directly in colour… I managed to achieve a form that was naked to the core,” Matisse wrote about his artworks.

Significant applique paintings:
“Guitar” by Pablo Picasso, 1913
Art Critic” by Raoul Hausmann, 1920
Blue Nude” by Henri Matisse, 1952
The Snail” by Henri Matisse, 1953
Metamorphoses” by Joan Miró, 1936

Artists who used the applique technique:
Mikhail Vrubel, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Kazimir Malevich, Olga Rozanova, Lyubov Popova, Alexandra Exter, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Kurt Schwitters, Max Ernst, Robert Rauschenberg, Sergei Parajanov.