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Where’s the Glass?

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As the only gallery at Art Miami showing exclusively art made of glass, we’ve been the seed for some provocative conversations.

I was asked by a press person and more than one collector of contemporary glass whether I thought  that there had been an effort to keep glass out of the art fairs in Miami.

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As this is our first time doing the fair, it’s not easy for me to comment on the larger picture. I can, however, speak for our own gallery and the art – that happens to be made of glass – that we have brought.

It has been exceptionally well-received.

Jessica Loughlin’s minimalist panels have received strong accolades by many of the other dealers.

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Loughlin’s Awash 3 (upper right) was our first work of the fair to sell.

A local museum curator called April Surgent’s work “the most interesting at this year’s show”

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Surgent’s Dissolution’s Fortunes (foreground) was our second sale.

A respected collector of contemporary art explained to me at some length that Richard Whiteley’s sculptural forms were the “bridge” that is needed between glass and mainstream fine art. (receiving rather than delivering lectures on this subject is always a treat)

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Whiteley’s Two Chambers (left) and Periscope (right), holding their breath – and their own – at Art Miami.

The bridge between art and design was crossed more than once with countless conversations about the Loughlin-designed glass slab counter.

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Despite the absence of a large glass contingent at Art Miami, I saw and heard no strong bias against the material per se. And some in the audience were quick to point out that the acceptance of glass as an artmaking medium has strong precedents in works by Christopher Wilmarth, Larry Bell, Josiah McIlheny, Judith Schaechter etc etc etc.

The fact that there is so little glass at Art Miami, made it easy to quickly spot what there is. And I was happy to have our artists represented within this small group.

At the front of Art Miami’s 86,000 square feet of fair space, taste-setting New York dealer Barry Friedman showed some striking Yoichi Ohira forms. I read the suggestion of deflated bottles and the solid clarity of the pieces as a statement on the direction of contemporary glass.

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Also showing glass amidst their mix of  edgy contemporary media  is the Duesseldorf and Toronto-based gallery,  Lausberg Contemporary, representing Marta Klonowska.

Klonowska’s “cutting edge” figures are drawn from imagery in classical painting and provide a fascinating twist on the position of this material within the greater history of art.

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Lynx (after Albrecht Dürer) above, and a small blue dog inspired by 17th century portraits by Hendrick Munnichhoven, below, break many of our material expectations and reconfigure them in playful and thoughtful ways:

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Of course, for sheer beauty – something that glass delivers with such ease and elegance -  there are always the haunting female figures of Nicolas Africano.

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….with the occasional male form, delicate, vulnerable, and perfectly cast in steely blue. Both shown by New York dealer Nancy Hoffman.

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So. Where’s the  glass? The best is here. I don’t see a conspiracy to exclude it. I see only some very high standards and the opportunity to engage in a different dialogue.

Like any art form, glass needs to push itself. And a perception of discrimination may not be the worst stimulus to drive the medium beyond its occasionally easy posture.

UPDATE after Saturday 5 December:

We’ve had an endless stream of visitors through the booth since last Tuesday, many of whom we know from the Glass World.

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Bill Carlson, artist and art faculty member at the University of Miami, stopped by with wife Annie. Bill, normally so loquacious on the topic of glass and contemporary art, wagged a quick finger, held his tongue, then cast a keen and approving eye into the work of his former graduate assistant.

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I’m calling this one “Billseye Glass”….

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…and this one “Happy Hairbill”…

12 Responses to Where’s the Glass?

  1. Dolores says:

    Thank you for the “on the floor” observations, Lani. I’ve been curious as to the reception you would receive and it sounds promising.

  2. Curious if there art that is using glass with other materials, and what galleries or specific artist WOWed you the most. (and you thought this blog would be easy!) – Joseph

  3. Thank you for posting on-site images of BE’s exhibiting artists as well as the glasswork represented by other galleries at Art Miami. It was interesting to read your impressions, as well as the comments made by collectors, patrons, and the press.
    Were the pieces purchased by collectors of contemporary glass art or by collectors of contemporary art?

  4. Lani says:

    Terrie,
    Sales have been to both.

    Joseph,
    You’re right: not easy. As regards what’s wowed me, I’d need a whole other post to address the question (which I love, and may do). As for “glass with other materials” – the booth opposite us (from Paris) is showing glass w/ coffee beans.

  5. Kate Elliot says:

    Great blog and photos Lani. Thank you!

  6. Bert Weiss says:

    You showed great restraint not grabbing any beans. Or did you?
    I still want to see a Chuck Close made with BE glass. He was just around the corner. So close…
    Love those dogs.

  7. Fantastic report, Lani! Those dogs ROCK! I’m not surprised that “Awash 3″ was your first piece to sell — it is glorious! Congratulations on your success at the fair. Well done!

  8. I really love this post, wonder when we can put the whole glass vs. art thing to bed. Sounds like it’s past time. ;-)

    Cool dogs, wonder how the heck they pack them for shipping. You probably can guess which work pushed the hottest button for me…congrats on what sounds like a successful show.

  9. jenn houser says:

    thanks for the coverage- I agree with Cynthia, time to put the debate to bed and enjoy the work.

  10. Thanks for the update Lani. I have wondered how comprehensive that show is in Miami. I would think that market would be very receptive to glass.

    I’m glad the show was successful for you.

  11. Micaela says:

    Terrific entry, and beautiful images. I first saw glass as a sculptural medium at Art Basel this summer, so it was 100% validating and utterly delightful to receive SCOPE’s invitation to show Marvin Lipofsky’s work at SCOPE Miami this winter. I wish I’d had a moment to come over and say hello!

  12. Lani says:

    Hi Micaela,
    I’m sorry that I didn’t get over to SCOPE. I was hoping to finally meet you – I heard great things about you. We were glued to the floor at Art Miami for all but the 57 minutes we got to dash through the 500,000 sq ft of Art Basel one night and the 42 minutes we used to speed through Pulse one morning. So much art, so little time. Maybe next year!

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