Indepth Arts News: |
"Contemporary Directions: Glass from the Maxine and William Block Collection
2002-04-06 until 2002-07-07
Carnegie Museum of Art
An exhibition showcasing recent works in glass,
Contemporary Directions: Glass from the Maxine and William Block
Collection, will be on view at Carnegie Museum of Art from April 6-July 7,
2002. The exhibition of 62 works, created by 49 artists from the United
States, Europe, and Australia between 1988 and 2001, chronicles an exciting
period of innovation in studio glass.
A complementary exhibition, William
Morris: Man Adorned, an installation by Morris, a contemporary studio glass
artist renowned for his technical skill and innovative subject matter, will
also be on view throughout the run of Contemporary Directions.
Studio glass refers to objects created in artists' studios rather than
manufactured in large workshops or factories, and the contemporary studio
glass movement traces its origins to a series of seminal workshops held at
the Toledo Museum of Art in 1962. The workshops led to a new approach the
medium. Schools and other institutions launched programs to train those who
wanted to work in glass, and artists introduced small furnaces for firing
glass into their studios. Subsequently, improved varieties of glass and new
techniques possible with better materials and equipment have made the recent
decades a period of burgeoning creativity in studio glass.
Like artists who work in other media, contemporary artists working in glass
are now free to explore a broad range of ideas, styles, and subjects. The
Block collection, which includes works by Dale Chihuly, William Morris,
Cappy Thompson, Colin Reid, Maria Lugossy, Klaus Moje, and other important
artists, exemplifies a number of trends-the
exploration of theoretical ideas; the appropriation of shapes, concepts, and
techniques associated with other times, places, or media; the willingness to
produce larger-scale artwork; the creation of installations; the inclusion
of humor, and narrative, landscape, and figural representation-that
characterize contemporary art in other media.
Painters, sculptors, and architects sometimes appropriate form, design, and
technique from other eras and other media, and artists working in glass now
do likewise. Dante Marioni, for example, adapts classical shapes, but
elongates them and uses a much wider color palette. His blown glass
Chartreuse and Black Pair (1992), a pitcher and footed vessel that evokes
the ancient Greek kylix, or two-handled drinking bowl, has proportions,
scale, and bright colors that are purely modern.
Artists working in glass also explore the representational possibilities of
the medium. Giles Bettison's Vista #40 (2000) is a representation of the
landscape of the mountains and plains of the northern United States as they
appear from above. Other representational works include the large-scale,
blown glass Zanfirico Pear (1994) by Flora Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick, which
was inspired by still life painting, and the blown and painted Madonna
(1992) by Liubov Savelyeva.
Several pieces in the Block's collection prove that contemporary studio
glass has become a medium capable of exploring formal ideas. Frantisek
Vizner's minimalistic Bowl (1998), for example, has a dense, muted color,
and because of its scale and classical shape, the work can be appreciated as
a formal study of proportion.
One of the more striking changes seen in studio glass works, as well as in
the visual arts in general, is an increase in size and scale. Works such as
Therman Statom's Midwestern Autumn (1996), in the shape of a ladder over six
feet tall, assembled from cut sheet glass with paint and mixed media,
exemplify the willingness of artists to express themselves in larger works.
Likewise, Kathleen Mulcahy's Persuasion Series: Ravishing (1996) defies the
accepted rules governing the size of a perfume bottle.
The Block's collection is a wonderful foray into the themes and trends of
contemporary studio glass. In studio glass there are obvious parallels with
what's going on in other media, and this is hardly surprising since no
artist works in a cultural vacuum. explains Sarah Nichols, curator of
decorative art at Carnegie Museum of Art, who co-organized the exhibition
along with Davira Taragin, director of the Center for Glass and curator of
modern and contemporary glass at Toledo Museum of Art, where it will be
shown in 2003. The exhibition design is by Paul Rosenblatt AIA of
Maxine and William Block, members of the Block family, which owns Block
Communications, the parent company of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The
Blade newspaper in Toledo, have been collectors of contemporary art since
the late 1940s. They acquired their first pieces of glass in 1988 to
decorate their apartment in Toledo. Throughout the 1990s, they have built a
collection that contains works by some of the most respected studio glass
artists from the United States and abroad.