Book: Silhouettes from Popular Culture by Olly Moss


If you missed our coverage of Gallery 1988‘s fine art show Papercuts – by Olly Moss last year, you missed out on a very special show. The reverberations of which have been echoing and amplifying in the time since, not only for the British artist himself, but for the representation of recognizable popular culture icons in the world of fine gallery art.

Titan Books has created a companion art book to Moss’ Papercuts titled Silhouettes of Popular Culture by Olly Moss. As described in the book’s forward, Silhouettes features some of Moss’ personal favorite pieces from the show. Join me after the jump for a look at this awesome book itself!


The book comes with a forward by Moss himself where he describes working on the Papercuts pieces – how once he started, one thing led to another and he simply couldn’t stop. He ended up making hundreds of finely detailed, cut black paper silhouettes of popular culture figures. The framed likenesses of Indiana Jones, The Iron Giant, the entire cast of Saved By The Bell and many more ended up gracing the white walls of LA’s Gallery 1988. I wasn’t able to go to the show, but from what I understand from those who were able to attend is that part of the fun of this show was simply slowly checking out each individual silhouette to see if you recognized who it was, what jokes were being made about that character, and if there were any relationships to where each silhouette was placed in regards to the characters around it.

The Silhouettes book plays with much of the same ideas. In this case, however, the playful platform is much more limited. It’s a book with only so many pages, and each of those pages contains one silhouette that faces the opposite page. While the gallery show had a lot of intricate relationship play, the book is a straightforward 1:1 comparison or statement. But that doesn’t make it any less fun.


Part of what captivates people about Olly Moss’ works in general is that they always seem to have a level of playfulness or fun, be it from the subject matter or the way in which it’s rendered. This rings true in the Silhouettes book. With each turn of the page, you get a gleeful interpretation of a pop culture likeness translated into a black, two-dimensional profile, but if you know that character you can instantly recognize who it is.

And that’s all part of both Moss’ Papercuts show and the Silhouettes book, it’s an exercise in how quickly or easily much the public can instantly acknowledge these characters with the smallest amount of information. And it helps that each execution of each silhouette is flawless.


Moss’ Silhouettes book is a great coffee-table book. It’s a bit small and square in shape, but that means it will easily snuggle up to whatever people keep on their coffee tables. Silhouettes is available online and would make an excellent Christmas gift for any pop-culture (or art — or both) geeks on your list.

While the book may not be quite as good as seeing the show in person, Silhouettes offers an experience with Moss’ work that is still a ton of fun, which is essentially what Moss’ silhouette works are about.

(Special thanks to my dad, Jeff Rugg, for taking these photographs for me! Also trying to have your parents guess the pop culture characters in the book is really fun and adorable. “It’s a weird little princess.”)