Glass Workshop, 7 pieces
Courtesy of Toledo Museum of Art, William Shelley.
Color Ignited doesn't dwell on the backstory, however, but celebrates the ebullience, the sophistication, and the invention that have sprung so quickly from the Workshops. And while the reflections of the world's great glass cultures are seen throughout the show (not only Muranese, but Scandinavian and Czech), there is ingenuity, technology, humor, and characteristic motives that mark this work as American.
Between 1962's beginnings and the perfection of form in this 1979 bottle (right) there would seem to be generations of advancement, especially in the elegantly layered, complex distribution of colors, running from almost pastel blue through raspberry red. The form is classic simplicity, but the internal patterns carry us away.
Robert Fritz (American, 1920–1986), Vase Form.
Light olive green glass, blown, applied prunts, 1966.
H. 7 7/8 in. (20 cm). Toledo Museum of Art.
Museum Purchase Award, Toledo Glass National, 1966.135.
Photo: Richard Goodbody ©1966 Robert C. Fritz
The artists' use of color in this show comes unleashed, arresting, wild, or raw. But its use is always one more aspect of a piece that's already stunning for its form, idea, or craftsmanship. Color is the sound of the starter's gun. Toots Zynsky's bowl, City Lights, for instance, is a heart-stopper. It is made of super-tiny glass threads that are fused together so that they do
Toots Zynsky (American,
born 1951), City Lights. |
Filet de verre (glass threads), fused and thermoformed, 1993.
6 3/4 x 13 x 9 in. (17.1 x 33 x 22.9 cm). Private collection, Hoffman-Hall.
Photo: Toots Zynsky ©1993 Toots Zynsky
Dan Dailey, Pistachio Lamp. Illuminated Sculpture,
Hand blown glass. Gold plated brass.
14”H x 10”W x 10”D ©2011 Dan Dailey
Paul Seide (American, born 1949), Radio Light.
Glass, blown; mercury and argon gas, 1985.
H. 16 1/2 in. (41.9 cm); W. 16 3/4 in. (42.5 cm). Toledo Museum of Art.
Gift of Dorothy and George Saxe, 1991.135.
Photo: Richard Goodbody ©1985 Paul Seide
An internal light source intensifies the colors of Paul Seide's Radio Lamp too. Seide's lamp is powered by a specially-designed radio transmitter. The glass loops are filled with mercury and argon gas that emit light when excited by radio waves. This, like Dailey's work, takes received glass traditions, handles them with reverence, and introduces them to the technological present. It's the American way.
Glass in a glass box—in a mirrored box, really. With LED lights, and a video monitor. Twilight Powered by Electricity Makes for a Brilliant New Horizon was among several in the show that are conceptual works made with glass. For Andrew Erdos, glass and its properties illustrate his thoughts about reflection, transparency, lightness and darkness, color, invisibility, form and shadow. Yet it felt to me that glass shaped his ideas, which were the real focus of the piece. It was a mixed media work, concepts having the same weight and presence as the physical materials. But glass could never have served such myriad, complex purposes only twenty years before Erdos made this.
Deborah Horrell (American, born 1953), Infolding II.
14 ¾ x 14 ½ x 8 ¾ in. (37.4 x 36.8 x 22.2 cm).
Collection of Margy and Scott Trumbull.
Photo: Richard Goodbody. ©2008 Deborah Horrell
The vessel has a matte finish, which makes it seem like a ceramic object at first glance. Its color, though, and its ombre gradation from the yellow rim to the melon-green bottom of the cup suggests clear glass—it's like we are looking through the container to the layers of a chilled parfait of tropical ingredients. The rim of the large form does not disguise the crushed glass in the processes, for it is crumbly looking. The colors, though, in combination with the cup shape suggest something icy; the finely broken glass reads like ice crystals that will melt on the tongue.
I also loved BlueRubySpray by Harvey Littleton. This work is dated 1990, almost thirty years after the ceramist assembled friends and colleagues at the Toledo Museum of Art to figure out how artists could work with glass outside of factory settings. Here Littleton has produced colored veins encased in clear glass, which effectively magnifies them. Wherever the viewer stands to look at the piece, she or he sees all the possible angles of the ribbons, displaying more or less of the stripes of color, each revealed in a different way by its particular position.
The complexity is all in and of the glass and its properties. It changes with the environmental light and the viewer's movements. It also has that other thing I'll admit that I always love in glass: It's shiny! It gleams!
All photographs in this article are courtesy of the Toledo Museum of Art.