Fifty Years, installation at Krannert Art Museum, 2012.
Fifty Years, installation at Krannert Art Museum, 2012.
Fifty Years, installation at Krannert Art Museum, 2012.
On View
Jan 27, 2012–Apr 29, 2012
Main Level, Contemporary Gallery

Fifty Years: Contemporary American Glass from Illinois Collections is designed as a sampling tour through the world of American contemporary glass art, showing the wide diversity of technique and vocabulary used by the artists.

Sponsored in part by the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass, Midwest Contemporary Glass Art Group, Fox Development Corporation, Jon and Judith Liebman, and Joy Thornton-Walter and John Walter

In 1962 Harvey Littleton, then ceramicist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, along with Dominick Labino, vice-president of the Johns Manville Corporation, developed a small glass furnace on the grounds of the Toledo Museum of Art. This major development in glassmaking allowed an artist to create works in an independent studio setting. In addition, Littleton organized two workshops to demonstrate the use of glass as an artistic medium. These workshops became the foundation of the American Studio Glass Movement.

In the beginning, there were two distinguishing characteristics of American studio glass: unification of the roles of designer and maker and a focus on blown glass as distinct from other processes of forming objects from glass. Fifty years later, these two characteristics no longer describe American glass art. Blown glass is still a major thread; however, cast glass, coldworked glass, and hot-sculpted glass are also important techniques of the movement. Although many artists design and make their own pieces, others, notably Dale Chihuly, work with gaffers who make pieces under their direction.

This exhibition emphasizes the latter half of the movement's fifty-year history in this country, although a few early pieces are included. The works are all drawn from the private collections of those living in Illinois, with a small bias towards artists with a connection to Illinois. A few of the artists represented in this exhibition, including Chihuly, Marvin Lipofsky, and Joel Philip Myers, were students of, or were directly inspired by Littleton, while many others were students of Littleton's students. Almost all of the artists are actively producing glass art today, with the exception of Littleton, Labino (who is deceased), and William Morris.

Select Programming

February 9, 2012
Exhibition Tour "Through the Glass, Looking," with Jon Liebman, guest curator

March 8, 2012
Panel Discussion "Contemporary," with Jon Liebman, guest curator; Carmen Lozar, artist; John Miller, assistant professor of Art, Illinois State University; Amy Rueffert, instructor of Ceramics, U of I; and Joy Thornton-Walter, collector


Guest Curator: Jon Liebman