Masks in art and costume span centuries and different cultures from around the world. This selection of artists has taken the concept of a mask and reworked it with fascinating results. 

Masks by Bertjan Pot at Boijmans van Beuningen museum in Rotterdam, Photo: Lotte Stekelenburg

Bertjan Pot is a Dutch product designer known for his quirky designs. His on-going mask project is was recently exhibited at the Boijmans van Beuningen museum in Rotterdam, Holland.  Here masks were part of Hot Glue, Pot’s exhibition in three spaces of the museum, which also includes gloves, triaxial baskets, various textile experiments.  See Bertjan talking about his work in detail here:


Paolo Del Toro is a British-born artist now living in the US, working at Pennsylvania College of Art and Design as an Adjunct Professor Starting out as an illustrator he later taught himself sculpture and woodcarving after the process of whittling a mermaid from a twig while in the Pyrenees Mountains got him hooked on sculpture.  

His first mask project was a series of wooden boxes in the shape of heads, which were directly influenced by his nomadic lifestyle in that they were small, lightweight, and hollow, making them easy to fashion while travelling. After settling in the US three years ago, Paolo began to make larger sculptures and to experiment with felt. His current pieces are made of foam and needle-felted wool. He says of his work: “My sculptures present a contrast between the familiar and the foreign, the inviting and the unsettling. Oftentimes this contrast is found in the relationship between two characters within a sculpture. In many of my pieces, characters find themselves locked in a power struggle with symbolic and totemistic animals. In other instances, this contrast is found within individual characters, as they find themselves at odds with their own identity. I frequently use masks in my work a s a symbolic device to convey the theme of contrasting identities. I particularly enjoy reversing the traditional concept of the mask, using the calm and serine face as the mask, which is removed to reveal a monstrous face beneath.” 


Canadian artist Shawn Hunt has created Transformation Mask (above), an interactive installation featuring HoloLens, which uses electronics and mechanical engineering to create a physical transformation, before beginning a holographic experience for the viewer. The work is a collaboration between Shawn and a team of artists, designers and engineers at Microsoft Vancouver. The installation was unveiled this summer at the Vancouver Art Gallery and the work – a raven, is a cyborg, which Hunt says moves away from handmade masks and yet explores “authenticity and our expectations of what it means to be indigenous through the removal of the hand-carved surface”.