There’s no doubt that stained-glass practises created the first significant glass artworks, with stained glass makers paving the way for the emergence of different glass techniques and styles. Most commonly associated with medieval cathedrals and 19th Century stained glass makers, this technique has been used for different expressions since the beginning of the 20th Century, while these expressions and practises have introduced glass art to the world of fine and modern art
The early 20th Century saw the emergence of new styles of glass works that superseded the dominant Gothic movement. One of the most important authors of that time was Harry Clarke, an Irish stained-glass creator and book illustrator. Clarke was a leading figure of the famous Irish Arts and Crafts movement.
Stained-glass remains an important practise today. And renowned British artist Brian Clarke is among the leading stained-glass artisans in contemporary art, whose works can be found in architectural settings and private and public collections internationally. However, in today’s contemporary art world there are also other glass creatives who use techniques and styles that are more popular than stained-glass.
Glassblowing, as one of the most significant contemporary artistic practises, has a rich tradition but still enjoys enormous popularity today, while some of the most renowned contemporary glass creators also use this quite complicated technique. One of them is American glass sculptor Dale Chihuly, who uses an extremely rare glassblowing technique that results in stunning sculptures and installations. Chihuly is a very productive artist and his pieces can be found in permanent collections all over the world.
Most of today’s glassblowing artisans can thank Lino Tagliapietra for pioneering many of the processes and techniques that have become the industry norm. Tagliapietra is among the most important contemporary glass artists. Born in Italy and raised on the Italian island of Murano, where glassmaking has been an island tradition since at least 1291, his pieces can be found worldwide, while his best-known piece – an impressive 35- boat glass armada – is on display at the Columbus Art Museum in the U.S.
Art collectors are increasingly interested in what some of the bestknown glass artisans have to offer, eagerly awaiting a chance to see their latest glass creations
Glass sculpture is actually among the most popular glass art forms today. Jack Storms is a contemporary artist who uses an extremely rare technique to create sculptures, in which each sculpture begins with a core of lead crystal which is cut, polished and laminated to create reflective mirrors and a rainbow of colours. This is followed by hours and hours of repetitive grinding, cutting and polishing.
There are many glass factories around the world today, some delving in more commercial matters, while others also focus on the applied arts. Some of the best can be found in the U.S. and the UK, but also in Germany, France, Poland and Russia. All of those factories produce high-quality products, both hand-blown, which include a cylinder glass, a so-called muff, and a crown glass, and the kind of rolled glass that is mostly used for cathedral ornamentation. Considering the fact that many new technologies of production have been invented to date, contemporary stained-glassmakers have a significant amount of quality resources at their disposal. One aspect of the contemporary glass art scene that became clear over the past few years is that young and emerging lady glass shapers are courageously taking control into their own hands.
Glass crafting and manufacturing have always been seen as a manly discipline. However, that perspective is changing and we now see a lot of truly successful women in the world of glass. They include the likes of Kimiko Yoshida, Marya Kazoun, Anne Peabody, Soyeon Cho and Hye Rim Lee, to mention just a few. Some famous glass shapers who are members of GAS – the Glass Art Society – include Nina Casson McGarva from France, Alejandro Herrera Guiñazú from Argentina, Tanja Pak from Slovenia, Mauro Bonaventura from Italy and Karen Reid from the U.S., among others.
Glass art has found its spot under the Sun of the contemporary art world, and it’s undoubtedly already well established, either as an applied arts medium or an independent technique
When it comes to glass art, truly everything is possible. There are no boundaries other than the artist’s imagination itself.
Glass art is truly valuable in today’s scene. Looking at the global art market, we can note a high demand for glass art pieces. Art collectors are increasingly interested in what some of the best-known glass artisans have to offer, eagerly awaiting a chance to see their latest glass creations. A large number of art galleries dedicated exclusively to exhibiting glass artworks are also opening their doors in various cities around the world.
Moreover, it seems that these creatives in every corner of the Earth have never before been as inspirational, creative and innovative as they are today. Glass art has found its spot under the Sun of the contemporary art world, and it’s undoubtedly already well established, either as an applied arts medium or an independent technique. Monitoring the dynamic changes in the creative spheres today, we are eager to see what the next trend will be, and what extraordinary glass artworks such artisans will make in the future.