New to Glass?
How to Learn More about Contemporary Studio Glass
If you are new to contemporary studio glass, and want to find out more about it, this page is designed to give you some sources of help. Note that there is no technical information here.
Contents of this page:
- Where should I go to see examples of contemporary studio glass and learn more?
- How can I find current and forthcoming exhibitions of contemporary studio glass?
- What books will help me learn more about contemporary studio glass?
- What periodicals are available about contemporary studio glass?
- Where else can a beginning glass collector or other interested person find information?
- Summary of Panel Discussion at Glass Weekend: "Paths of Glass: Choosing your Collecting Strategies"
- Comments from collectors
- Many large urban art museums carry some glass art in their permanent collections. There are also frequent special glass exhibitions at these museums.
- The National Liberty Museum, located at 321 Chestnut Street in historic Philadelphia, is dedicated to promoting tolerance and understanding by celebrating America's heritage of freedom. Glass art is featured in every exhibit to serve as a metaphor for the fragile nature of liberty.
- There is a growing number of galleries devoted exclusively to the exhibition and sale of contemporary studio glass. You can find those that have websites on our links page. The websites of these galleries, as well as many other sites, have photographs of glass art. Though generally photographs do not do justice to glass, they are a way of seeing a much larger variety than can normally be seen in one location.
- If you are a member of the AACG, be sure to take every opportunity to visit individual private collections through our Visitors' Network.
- If you are in Chicago in the fall, Miami in the winter, or New York City in the spring, attend the SOFA (Sculpture Objects and Functional Art) exhibitions in these cities. A large number of international glass galleries show some of the best-known and emerging artists at these exhibitions. For information, visit the SOFA website at www.sofaexpo.com.
- GlassWeekend, at Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center, Millville, NJ, in the summer of odd-numbered years, is co-sponsored by AACG and the Creative Glass Center of America. For more information about GlassWeekend, see the page on this site, and/or visit the Creative Glass Center of America website.
- Pilchuck Glass School, outside of Seattle, is probably the best-known glass school in the country, and Seattle is a center of the glass "universe". though the school is not open to public visits, there is an annual Pilchuck Benefit Auction every fall, and a 3-day weekend for out-of-town collectors is planned around this event. Participants in this weekend visit the school, other public exhibits and galleries, and private collections in the Seattle area.
- If you are a member of AACG, you may participate in the annual trip to some city in which galleries, museums, and private collections are visited. Participation is limited to AACG members. These trips are announced on the news and trips pages of this website, as well as by e-mail and letter to AACG members and in the quarterly member newsletter.
- A number of periodicals about glass feature lists of gallery shows, exhibitions, and other events of interest. See the list of periodicals below.
- See also the list of current and coming events on our calendar page. We do not list gallery shows, but do try to keep our listings of museum exhibitions and other glass events current.
- The Corning Museum of Glass also maintains a calendar of past, present, and future glass exhibitions. Click here for that site .
There are many sources of specialized books on glass. The Corning Museum of Glass has an online list of books for sale at http://glassmarket.cmog.org/browse.cfm/2,93.html. The catalogs of glass exhibitions, particularly at the first-rank museums, usually contain fine photographs and informative discussions of contemporary studio glass. Some of these catalogs are available from national booksellers, while others can be purchased by calling the museum. Many galleries keep a small inventory of glass books available for sale. [Suggestions of books to be added to this list are welcome.]
The following list is by no means exhaustive, or even comprehensive. It is compiled primarily from suggestions made by collectors. Note that it includes a number of exhibition catalogs.
- 20th Century Glass by Mark Cousins,Chartwell Books
- The Art of Craft: Contemporary Works from the Saxe Collection, by Timothy Burgard. M.H. De Young Museum, San Francisco, 1999.
- Artists Confronting the Inconceivable: Award Winning Glass Sculptures. Published by American Interfaith Institute, this is collection of glass sculptures which commemorate the Holocaust. May be obtained from the National Liberty Museum: Barbara Boroff, 215-925-2800, ext. 108.
- Australian Studio Glass: the Movement, Its Makers and their Art, by Noris Ioannou. Craftsman House, Sydney, 1996.
- Clearly Glass. Pilchuck's Glass Legacy, by Lloyd Herman. Whatcom Museum of History & Art, 1992. [The story of this seminal glass school/studio/expertimental workshop in words and photos.] Contemporary Art Glass, by Ray and Lee Grover. Crown Publishers, New York, 1975 [No longer contemporary, but important information about what was happening in the early '70's.]
- Contemporary Glass, by Susanne K. Frantz. Henry N. Abrams, New York, 1989. [The magnum opus of its day. Includes an extensive bibliography.]
- Contemporary International Glass, by Jennifer Hawkins Opie. Harry N Abrams, New York, 2004.
- Dictionary of Glass Materials & Techniques by Charles Bray, A&C Black, London, England.
- Glass, by William S. Ellis, Avon Books, New York, 1998.
- Glass Art by Peter Layton,University of Washington Press,Seattle,WA.
- Glassblowing: A Search for Form, by Harvey K. Littleton. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1980.
- Glass Today: American Studio Glass from Cleveland Collections, by Henry H. Hawley. Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH, 1997.
- Glass Today by American Studio Artists, by Jonathan L. Fairbanks and Pat Warner. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 1997. [Introductory essay by Jonathan Fairbanks and essays about individual artists. Has good biographical and bibliographical information about the artists.]
- Masters of Contemporary Glass: Selections from the Glick Collection, by Martha Drexler Lynn. Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1997.
- New Glass: A Worldwide Survey. Corning Museum of Glass, Corning New York, 1979. [Includes preface by Thomas Buechner, a commentary by Anthony Snow, an overview by William Warmus, an essay on 1959-1979 by Russell Lynes, and jury statements.]
- Pilchuck: A Glass School tells the story of the founding and development of the Pilchuck School, which really represents one branch of the story of contemporary glass sculpture. The price is $60. Order by telephone at (206) 621-8422.
- Venezia Aperto Vetro. International New Glass. by Attilia Dorigato and Dan Klein. Arsenale editrice, Venice, Italy, 1996. [Essays on: Glass in the US by Susanne K Frantz, Czech Glass by Sylvia Petrova, British Glass by Dan Klein, German Glass by Helmut Ricke, French Glass by Jean-Luc Olivie, and Murano Glass by Attilia Dorigato]
- Voices of Contemporary Glass: The Heineman Collection, by Tina Oldknow, 2009.
- Sculpture, Glass, and American Museums, by Martha Drexler Lynn, 2005.
- Looking at Glass: A Guide to terms, Styles, and Techniques, by Catherine Hess and Karol Wight, J. Paul Getty Museum, 2005. A glossary of glass terminology, illustrated with samples of Roman, Renaissance, Victorian, and modern glass.
- The AACG Newsletter is provided free to members of AACG.
- Glass Focus is a newsletter of glass events, with an extensive gallery listing. Subscriptions are $30 for individuals and $18 for students. For subscription, write Beverly Copeland, 9323 Olcott, Morton Grove, IL 60053-1752.
- Neues Glas/New Glass is a quarterly magazine in English and German devoted to contemporary studio glass. It carries articles about individual artists, exhibitions, collectors, and the glass scene in general. Subscription price in the USA is $48/year. Subscriptions and address changes to: German Language Publications, Inc., 153 S. Dean St., Englewood, NJ 07631.
- Glass: The UrbanGlass Art Quarterly is published by UrbanGlass, the New York Contemporary Glass Center. Subscriptions are $28 (+$5 in Canada and Mexico; +$20 elsewhere).
- Vetro is a three-times-a-year publication of the Centro Studio Vetro, an Italian non-profit cultural association dedicated to the promotion of the culture and art related to glass. Vetro is published in Italian and English and carries articles about glass artists and events (not just Italian), with excellent photographs. Subscription comes with membership in Centro Studio Vetro. "Ordinary" membership is $100. Address: Centro Studio Vetro, Fond. S. Lorenzo, 17-18/b, 30141-Murano, Venice, Italy. e-mail: email@example.com.
- American Craft is published bi-monthly by the American Craft Council. It carries frequent articles about studio glass. The magazine is available at newsstands. Membership in the Council is $40 (+$15 for Canadian and foreign members), and includes a subscription. Subscription correspondence should be addressed to: American Craft Council, P.O. Box 3000, Denville, NJ 078334.
- Glasswork is a bimonthly web magazine on glass. It is at http://www.glasswork.ne.jp
- Glass Encyclopedia is a great source of all sorts of information.
- Tune in to Glass Talk Radio, an online webcast; live Tuesday 11 - 12 Pacific. Past broadcasts are archived on the website.
- Murano Magic is a website related to Murano: history, artists and artisans, companies and workshops, reference books, technical terms.
- Czech Art Forum contains information about many Czech glass artists.
- The introduction to Collector's Guide: Glass Art in Northern New Mexico has some excellent general information.
- Studio Glass Info is a general contemporary glass site, with a calendar, links, news. Emphasis is on European glass. In French.
At Glass Weekend at Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center in July, 1999, there was a panel discussion directed toward "emerging collectors". Members of the panel constituted some experienced collectors and some who had only recently begun collecting. The moderator was Leatrice Minzter, President of AACG. The discussion were some of the points made.
- Definitions of "collectors" varied somewhat among the panelists, but seemed to include owning at least a few pieces, intending to purchase more pieces, and having a passion for contemporary studio glass. Many collectors, but not all, had collected other art or craft before starting to collect glass. In fact, many began collecting something (baseball cards, matchbooks, etc.) as children.
- Most of the panelists were exposed to contemporary glass by seeing a piece in a gallery or show; many bought that first piece. Panelists generally thought that a knowledge of the history of the contemporary glass movement was important and definitely had an influence on their glass purchases. They encouraged those who are developing an interest in glass to learn about the history as a way to increase their appreciation. A number of the books in the section above include information about the history of the movement. In a discussion about sources of help and advice in collecting, there was general agreement that reputable gallery directors, with whom a continuing relationship was developed, was the most common source of guidance.
- Some collectors have a definite "focus" of their collection, on particular geographical areas, or particular time frames, or styles, themes, etc., while others do not. Those who do have a focus generally did not start that way, but the focus was a conscious decision made after the collection had started.
- Other advice for new collectors: 1) Look a lot. See as much glass as you can, both "in the flesh" and in photographs. 2) Buy for the long haul. Buy pieces that you will enjoy for many years to come (often a hard property to evaluate). 3) Generally, don't buy the first piece you see by a given artist. Learn the artist's style and range, and then buy an excellent example of that artist's work.
A "bulletin board" discussion on this site was on the topic of "What information and advice should be given to new (emerging) collectors?" Some of the specific information provided by responses to that question appears in the paragraphs above. Below are some more general comments that were also sent:
- Maybe I am being a little too basic but the key for me is to collect what you like and can live with for a long period of time and not what is the current fad or the "in" designer. This medium is magical and with a little research and detective work, you will find that art glass which makes your "soul" sing. (Bill Geary)
- My husband and I have found that, as with collecting anything else, trendy, pricey, antique, etc., one starts where one feels comfortable, in terms of present knowledge and price. As one goes along, the "taste" becomes more sophisticated and discriminating. I know we ALL probably look back at the beginning pieces of our glass collections and, although we still cherish these pieces, ask ourselves, "How or why did I ever purchase that?". We grow, we develop, our passion for glass monumentally grows. This, to me, is the hallmark of a true collector, whatever his or her specialty. Any comments on this, I'd like to hear what others feel on this point. (Mary Himlin)
- Locate your nearest collectors' group and join up even if you cannot attend every function. It will keep you up to date on current glass-related events in your area and, best of all, you will have the opportunity to meet other new and experienced collectors and learn with them as they visit each other's homes, galleries and artists' studios. The field of contemporary glass seems to be unique in its friendly camaraderie among collectors, artists and dealers. Most of these regional groups enlist speakers at their events, be they artists, curators or critics who will enhance your awareness, understanding and appreciation of contemporary glass. Attend openings of glass exhibitions where you can get to know the dealers and the artists on a personal basis. Dealers and directors of galleries are usually happy to explain their exhibited works to you and introduce you to the artists, who are even happier to explain their works! To really get into the glass groove and develop a deeper feeling for this seductive medium, consider trying a hand at it yourself. There are several schools in the United States that offer short term courses for beginners. An example of such a facility (because I live in the Northeast and am most familiar with its curriculum) is Urban Glass in Brooklyn, which does not involve living on campus and offers workshops as short as a single weekend in blowing, slumping, casting, lampworking or paperweight making. If you are not already in awe of the amazing talents of the artists whose work you see exhibited in galleries and museums, trying it out yourself will raise your appreciation to new heights! And of course, join the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass which is, at this very moment, bringing you all of this information. Attend our meeting and symposia at SOFA in Chicago and receive our newsletter as part of your membership package. Click on "About AACG" (under "AACG Information" in the menu) for membership details and mailing address (Leatrice Minzter) I
- If you are beginning collectors, my belief is that you should look and look and look and look some more at glass. Wherever you may be in your travels or at home, the more you see, the better you are able to select for your own collection as it begins and grows. There are a myriad of books which will introduce you to the world of glass. Jerry Paulson's list is excellent. I have always found Susanne Frantz's book on Contemporary Glass to be an excellent beginning resource whether you read it or skim it or just browse through the pictures. Your ability to make choices will be enhanced by learning about glass from earlier years (late 19th and early 20th centuries), which Susanne touches on in her excellent book. In case you are interested particularly in what the Milwaukee Art Museum has done, (I am very biased about this!) there are two catalogues available from two glass exhibitions. One was "From Tiffany to Ben Tre: A Century of Glass (1993...art made from glass from late 1800s to the present...curated by Joan Barnett and Audrey Mann). The other, "Recent Glass Sculpture: A Union of Ideas (1997...featuring artists from all backgrounds who have incorporated glass in their sculpture...guest curated by Audrey Mann) In each there is an essay which might be helpful and give you some additional information. You can contact me if either catalogue sounds interesting. So...on your way. Have fun and be selective! (Audrey Mann)