The Paper Art and Science of Matthew Shlian


A complete retrospective of the paper engineer and artist Matthew Shlian, documenting a decade of unrivalled and unexpected creativity


ISBN: 9780500094280 Category:

Matthew Shlian


Since its invention in c.100 BC, paper has been a cornerstone of civilization and a key component of the human experience. Artist Matthew Shlian has always recognized paper’s significance as a material for experimentation and understanding. In his hands, engineering, science and geometry can all be expressed within the medium of paper. Folded, tessellated, compressed, extrapolated – two-dimensional paper becomes three-dimensional sculpture in beautiful and unexpected ways.

Unfolding is a complete overview of Shlian’s oeuvre over the past ten years, including small- and large-scale works, unseen development sketchbooks, collaborations with scientific researchers and scientists, three-dimension reliefs and sculpture – all in paper. Printed in full colour on two paper stocks, the book features an introduction by Diana Gaston, an interview between Stuart Kestenbaum and the artist, and essays by acclaimed writer Lawrence Weschler and Islamic design scholar Eric Broug. In keeping with the geometric underpinning of Shlian’s work, the dimensions of the book are ’16 cubed’: 16cm squared by 16cm squared by 16 signatures of 16 pages.

Unfolding is a journey into the new possibilities of folding technology, the intricate complexities of Islamic patterns, and the sheer potential offered by a simple sheet of paper.

With 200 illustrations, 150 in colour

Additional information

Weight 1599 g
Dimensions 26.2 x 25.9 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 10 February 2021
Number of pages 256
Format Hardback
Dimensions 26.2 x 25.9 cm
Weight 1599 g


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Matthew Shlian is an artist, paper engineer and founder of the Initiative Artist Studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His work extends from drawings to large-scale installations to collaborations with leading researchers and scientists. His work for the National Science Foundation explores paper-folding structures on the macro level translated to the nano-scale. His client list includes Apple, P&G, Facebook, Levi's, Sesame Street and the Queen of Jordan.