Glass art

Glass art and Glass sculpture is the use of glass as an artistic medium to produce sculptures or two-dimensional artworks. Specific approaches include stained glass, working glass in a torch flame (lampworking), glass beadmaking, glass casting, glass fusing, and, most notably, glass blowing. As a decorative and functional medium, glass was extensively developed in Egypt and Assyria, brought to the fore by the Romans (who developed glassblowing), and includes among its greatest triumphs European cathedral stained glass windows. Great ateliers like Tiffany, Lalique, Daum, Gallé, the Corning schools in upper New York state, and Steuben Glass Works took glass art to the highest levels. Glass from Murano (also known as Venetian glass) is the result of hundreds of years of refinement and invention. While there are now more hotshops and glass artists working in Seattle (USA), Murano is still held as the birthplace of modern glass art.

The glass objects created are intended to make a sculptural or decorative statement. On the market, their prices may range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars (US).

Prior to the early 1960s, the term "glass art" referred to glass made for decorative use, usually by teams of factory workers, taking glass from furnaces with a thousand or more pounds of glass. This form of glass art, of which Tiffany and Steuben in the U.S.A., Gallé in France and Hoya Crystal in Japan, Royal Leerdam Crystal in The Netherlands and Kosta Boda in Sweden are perhaps the best known, grew out of the factory system in which all glass objects were hand or mold blown by teams of 4 or more men. The turn of the 19th Century was the height of the old art glass movement while the factory glass blowers were being replaced by mechanical bottle blowing and continuous window glass.

Regional glass art

United States

The United States has had two phases of development in glass. The early and mid-1900s had a number of factories active in Ohio and Corning, NY. with factories such as Fenton, Stuben and others turning out both functional and artistic pieces. The second phase of glass in the United States happened in the 60's as Harvey Littleton, Dominick Labino and Marvin Lipofsky kicked off the studio glass movement by creating small-scale furnaces for the use of glass as an artisic medium. This modern studio glass movement caught on in design schools and Littleton would go on to found the first fine art glass program at the University of Wisconsin at Madison; Marvin Lipofsky, founded the university-level glass program at the University of California at Berkeley in 1964. Dr. Robert Fritz founded a university-level glass program at San Jose State University in San Jose, CA the same semester in 1964. In 1965 Bill H. Boysen, as a graduate student under Harvey Littleton, built the first glass studio at Penland School of Crafts, Penland, North Carolina. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1966, Boysen started the graduate glass program at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Illinois later that same year. Dale Chihuly initiated the glass program at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1969. As glass grew in the U.S. and artists learned from artists before them there has been a growth of studio art glass distributed across the country, but with the largest concentration of glass artists working in Seattle. San Francisco and Corning also have a sizable concentration of artists working in glass. The Pilchuck glass school near Seattle has become a mecca for glass artists from all over the world. Students, who may actually be college students or established artists, have the opportunity to attend masterclasses and exchange skills and information in a environment dedicated solely to glass based arts.


The modern Czech glass scene has been a major influence on the Post War glass movement (also known as Studio Glass Movement). Led by Europe's oldest glass school in Kamenický Šenov [] opened in 1856. Zelezny Brod [] Glass High school opened its door in 1920 from which internationally recognised artists such as Stanislav Libensky/Jaroslava Brychtova, Ales Vasicek, Bohumil Elias, Jan Exnar, Jaroslav Matous, Ivana Sramkova amongst others have passed through. The Academy of Applied Arts [] in Prague also played a major part in establishing this movement when it introduce the world's first graduate program for glass artists in 1954. At the Academy of Applied Arts, the course founder Professor Josef Kaplicky emphasised the merits of 'fine art' training (ie. painting & drawing) for the future glass artists as opposed to training craftsman to manipulate with the medium. He was followed by Professor Stanislav Libensky [] who, from 1964 until 1987, had much to do with establishing the modern Czech glass movement on the international art scene. No major glass art collection is complete without a section on the Czechs as can be seen from Modern glass collections such as the glass gallery at the Victoria & Albert Museum [] London. [Petrova, Sylva: Czech Glass (2002) Gallery. ISBN 80-86010-44-9.]


Glass blowing began in the Roman Empire, and Italy has refined the techniques of glass blowing ever since. Until the very recent explosion of glass shops in Seattle (USA), there were more on the Island of Murano (Italy) than anywhere else in world. The majority of the refined artistic techniques of glassblowing (e.g., incalmo, reticello, zanfirico, latticino) were developed there. Moreover, generations of blowers passed on their techniques to family members. Boys would begin working at the "fornazi" (actually "furnace"--called "the factory" in English).

United Kingdom

Notable centres of Glass production in the UK have been St. Helens in Merseyside (the home of Pilkingtons glass and the site on which lead crystal glass was first produced by George Ravenscroft), Stourbridge in the Midlands and Sunderland in the North East. Sunderland is now home to The National Glass Centre which houses a specialist glass art course. St. Helens boasts a similar establishment but without the educational body attached. Perthshire in Scotland was known internationally for its glass paperweights. It has always hosted the best glass artists working on small scales, but closed its factory in Crieff, Scotland in January 2002.

Glass artists in the UK are becoming increasingly proactive. The Scottish Glass Society hosts a yearly exhibition for members, the Guild of Glass Engravers exhibit every two years and the British Glass Biennale, begun in 2004 is now opening its third show.

British Glass Art owes much to the long history of craft. The majority of its glass blowers who operate small studio furnaces produce aesthetically beautiful though primarily functional objects. Technical skill as a blower is given as much importance as the artistic intent. Bob Crooks is perhaps the best known glass blower in the UK at present. He began his career as an assistant at The Glasshouse, a london based collective of glass artists that set the paradigm form Uk studio ot glass. Crooks was one of the last artists to emerge from The Glass House before its dissolution. Other notable Glasshouse artists are Steven Newell, Catherine Hough, Annette Meech and of course Simon Moore.

There are a growing number of art glass studios in the UK. Many specialize in production glassware while others concentrate on one off or limited edition pieces. An Art's Council funded, non-profit making organisation, The Contemporary Glass Society [ [ The Contemporary Glass Society] ] , founded in 1976 as "British Artists in Glass", exists to promote and support the work of Glass Artists in the UK. It produces material showcasing the work of glass artists throughout the UK [ Contemporary Glass Society Journal, designer Roger KohnOther glass organisations in the UK are The Guild of Glass Engravers, the Scottish Glass Society and Cohesion. Cohesion is a different sort of entity to the other organisations in that it was specifically founded to promote and develop glass art as a commercial concern. It organises trade events in and around the UK and at the international level. Originally it focused only on artists based the north east of England but has since expanded its remit to cover the whole of the UK.

The Northlands Glass School was established in late 1990's in the far north of Scotland and offers residencies and masterclasses to arts students and established glass artists.] .

In November 2007 the glass sculpture ", London.


In China, the making of glass arts date back to the Western Han Dynastry of the 3rd century BC. "Liuli" is the name - ancient Chinese glass. Its origins lie deep in the mystery of one of the world's greatest cultures. The alluring mystique and artistry that is Liuli breathes life into each and every one of its pieces, and this intensely captivating mystique is at times beyond description. Liuligongfang is the first company to define "liuli" as a concept of artful expression -- embodying the soul of ancient Chinese glass. More than just the creation of material objects.


Japanese glass art has a short but rich history. The first independent glass studios were built by Saburo Funakoshi and Makoto Ito, and Shinzo Kotani in separate places. Yoshihiko Takahashi and Hiroshi Yamano show their works at galleries throughout the world and are arguably Japan's glass artists of note. Yoichi Ohira has worked with great success in Murano with Italian gaffers. The small Pacific island Niijima, administered by Tokyo. has a renowned glass art center, built and run by Osamu and Yumiko Noda, graduates of Illinois State University, where they studied with Joel Philip Myers. Every autumn, the Niijima International Glass Art Festival takes place inviting top international glass artists for demonstrations and seminars. Emerging glass artists, such as Yukako Kojima and Tomoe Shizumu, were featured at the 2007 Glass Art Society exhibition space at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. Kyohei Fujita was another noteworthy Japanese studio glass artist.


The early glass movement (studio glass) in Australia was spurred on by a visit to Australia by American artist Richard Marquis, who toured the country in the early seventies with a mobile studio assisted by Australian Nick Mount. Since that time Australian glass has gained worldwide recognition with Adelaide in South Australia, hosting the International Glass Art Society Conference in 2005 on only its third occasion outside of the U.S.A.


Mexico was the first country in Latin America to have a glass factory in the early sixteenth century brought by the Spanish conquerors. Although traditional glass in Mexico has prevailed over modern glass art, since the 1970s there have been glass artists that have given a place to that country in international glass art.

The Netherlands

Glass art in the Netherlands is mainly stimulated by the glass designing and glass blowing factory Royal Leerdam Crystal. Such notable designers as H.P. Berlage , Andries Copier and Willem Heesen (Master Glassblower as well) had a major influence on Dutch glass art. Later the studio glass movement, inspired by the American Harvey Littleton and the new Masterstudy Glass art at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam led to a new generation of glass artists.


In Leuven lain near Brussels are themselves the glass factory of Belgian glass styling Theys & Miseur which represent Belgian artistic glass work concerning the entire world. Here works the master glass-makers Daniël Theys , Chris Miseur and their son Daan Theys.These masters are unique in what they makes. Daan Theys combines glass-blowing with his artistic career of contemporary art.The studio is well known all over the world for making high-quality glass art.

The international studio glass movement

The international studio glass movement originated in America, spreading to Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia and Asia. The emphasis of this movement was on the artist as the designer and maker of one-of-a-kind objects. This movement enabled the sharing of technical knowledge and ideas among artists and designers that, in industry, would not be possible.cite web |title= Corning Museum of Glass|url=|accessdate=2007-10-14|format= ]

With the dominance of Modernism in the arts, there was a broadening of artistic media throughout the 20th century. Indeed, glass was part of the curriculum at art schools such as the Bauhaus. Frank Lloyd Wright's produced glass windows considered by some as masterpieces not only of design, but of painterly composition as well. During the 1950s, studio ceramics and other craft media in the U.S. began to gain in popularity and importance, and American artists interested in glass looked for new paths outside industry . Great glass being designed and made in Italy, Sweden and many other places inspired and the pioneering work in ceramics of the California potter Peter Voulkos inspired Harvey Littleton (often referred to as the "Father of the Studio Glass Movement") to develop studio glassblowing in America. Together with Dominic Labino, Littleton staged a now-famous glass workshop at the Toledo Museum of Art in 1962.


See also

* Caneworking
* Fused glass
* Glassblowing
* Glass beadmaking
* Glass casting
* Glass tiles
* Glass disease
* Glossary of Glass Art terms
* Lampworking
* List of glass artists
* Paperweights
* Mosaic


External links

* [ Glass art society]
* [ Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery]
* [ Online Glass Art Community]
* [ Glass Resources and Education]

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