In Switzerland, there is a small museum which exhibits paper cut work by two paper-collage artists; Johann-Jakob Hauswirth and Louis-David Saugy. The museum lies in the valley of Pays-d’Enhaut, a hard to reach, secluded spot which specialises in producing milk, cheese, livestock and timber. The flowers and botanical life as well as mountain and farm animals inspired the artists to create detailed paper cuts.
When Johann-Jakob Hauswirth was born in 1808, silhouettes were fashionable, as many portraits were made from dark paper cut into profile. However, it may have been purely coincidental as there was very little contact from outside the valley. He lived until 1871 and throughout his life he was a crafts-man; illiterate, he used practical skills for his daytime jobs as a farm labourer or charcoal burner and his leisurely activity of paper cuts. He was born in the German speaking Saanenthal before moving to the French speaking Pays-d’Enhaut when he was young. And there he lived alone in a hut he built himself. Little is known about him, or why this woodman would take up this activity in the later years of his life and become so skilful. Some critics and historians say that Hauswirth is not an illustrator, but his work is symbolic of ideas, such as a harmonious and perfect world, his work can be seen as poetic. Heart shapes dominate some pieces which everyone understands as a universal language for love, union and affection.