To celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the studio glass movement, the Fine Arts Museums will present a small-focus exhibition of works by some of the medium’s pioneering artists, drawn from the collection of George and Dorothy Saxe and installed along the corridor adjacent to the Saxe Gallery for contemporary craft arts. To show both the artists’ personal evolutions and the evolution of the movement, the six-case installation will display an early and a late work each by Harvey Littleton, Dominick Labino, Dale Chihuly, William Morris, Thomas Patti, and Mark Peiser. The exhibition will also feature one work by Bay Area–based Marvin Lipofsky, founder of the glass program at the California College of Arts and Crafts (now California College of the Arts) in Oakland.
Two historic glassblowing workshops led by Littleton and Labino at the Toledo Museum of Art in 1962 inaugurated the modern American studio glass movement, which marked a shift from the functional glass forms mass-produced in factories to the unique or limited-edition glass sculptures made by artists in independent studios. Inspired by the groundbreaking work of artists associated with the studio crafts movement, such as ceramicist Peter Voulkos (1924–2002), Littleton began experimenting with hot glass in his studio in 1958. He joined forces with Labino, a research scientist who devised a small, inexpensive furnace in which to melt and work hot glass, making it relatively easy and affordable for artists to blow one-of-a-kind glass sculptures in their own studios.
Littleton went on to found a glass program in the ceramics department at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, mentoring students such as Chihuly and Lipofsky who have helped make the studio glass movement so popular through both teaching and their own artistic and technical innovations.