The Shadows and Silhouettes folder at the SVA Pictures Collection, like other such idiosyncratic categories, provides a unique glimpse into an overlooked aspect of the everyday. The play of shadow and light at turns preoccupies the cultural imagination and is neglected by it. In mythology, shadows are haunting doubles or unruly tricksters; in art, chiaroscuro works to hierarchize elements, to obscure and highlight, to focus the eye; in life, shadows are an opportunity for play often forgotten in adulthood. The folder in question offers over a hundred snapshots of such interactions between light and shadow including cranes silhouetted against a sunset, latticework shadows on a Moroccan street, a dancer in silhouette, and more. The folder also contains the exhibition catalogue for a show by the artist Len Lye entitled Shadowgraphs: Photographic Portraits. Come by the Pictures Collection for a better look into the shadows. [For even more images, see this previous post.]

A film negative-style portrait of a man in profile by Len Lye.

A tall, slim person with tall hair in silhouette.
W Magazine, September 2005
Winston Churchill in near-silhouetted profile before a set of arched windows. In the background is a large stately building.
The Illustrated London News February 5, 1966
A person in silhouette talking on the phone. The blinds behind her imply an office space and one can see glimpses of a cityscape through the window.
Four young women in athletic wear sit on the bench during a baseball game.
A dark, busy room. The back wall is illuminated orange and features Corinthian columns.
A bird's-eye view of skaters on a large rink.
Rock formation in Arizona casts a shadow.
Ventana Mesa, Arizona
Four herons in flight at sunset.
Two men in religious wear sit on a bench on covered street.