Overview of Exhibition
Facets of Modern and Contemporary Glass is an ongoing exhibition featuring the KMA’s growing collection of modern and contemporary glass, supplemented periodically by works on loan. Facets encourages museum visitors to consider Richard Jolley’s Cycle of Life within a larger context. It also reflects the KMA’s progress in building a focused collection of sculptures in glass by international artists who share Jolley’s interest in new technical and conceptual approaches to this ancient medium.
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This ongoing exhibition encourages museum visitors to consider Richard Jolley’s nearby Cycle of Life installation within a larger context. It also reflects the KMA’s progress in building a focused collection of sculptures in glass by international artists who share Jolley’s interest in new technical and conceptual approaches to this ancient medium.
Facets includes objects produced during and after the 1980s by a broad spectrum of artists from around the world. Their creative efforts were made possible in large part by the American Studio Glass movement of the late 1950s and early 1960s, during which methods were developed to allow artists to experiment with hot glass on a small scale outside of factory settings. In contrast to factory teams that mass-produced functional glass vessels, the studio movement emphasized the making of one-of-a-kind sculptural objects by individual artists. This new approach soon spread from the United States to well-established glass production centers in Czechoslovakia, Italy, Sweden, and beyond, inspiring dozens of younger artists to establish their own hot glass studios and take experimental approaches to the medium.
This experimental spirit is visible in the diverse selection of works featured in Facets. Transparent, hot-worked forms by studio glass pioneers Dominick Labino and Harvey Littleton represent the artists’ groundbreaking exploration of color relationships and the elastic properties of hot glass. They paved the way for the broad range of experimentation in recent decades by a younger generation of American artists including Curtiss Brock, Jon Kuhn, Dante Marioni, Steven Maslach, Tommie Rush, and others whose work is represented in the KMA collection. Whether producing vessels or sculptural objects, many of these artists explore a variety of chemical compositions, surface treatments, and sculpting methods that underscore the potential of glass as a contemporary art medium. Some artists bypass traits associated with glass—brilliant transparent colors, graceful vessel forms, and smooth glossy surfaces—in order to open up new expressive and technical possibilities. Cast structures by Czech artists such as Václav Cigler and František Vízner feature bold abstract forms, simple color schemes, and etched surfaces. British artist Luke Jerram, who is colorblind, creates colorless glass sculptures representing powerful environmental forces—whether atmospheric or microscopic—that have affected human lives around the globe.
The KMA wishes to thank June and Rob Heller and Mrs. M. Blair Corkran for generously underwriting the fabrication of new exhibition cases for Facets.
This project (was/is) supported, in whole or in part, by the federal award number SLFRP5534 awarded to the State of Tennessee by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.