The 100,000-square-foot addition, fully funded by Corning Incorporated, is the world’s largest space devoted to the display and creation of contemporary art and design in glass, and features 26,000 square feet of gallery space and a 500-seat live glass demonstration facility. Designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners, the wing is home to works created since 1990 by artists who have pushed the boundaries of what is possible in glass.
In celebration of the anniversary, the Museum has announced significant acquisitions created by the Campana Brothers, Karen LaMonte, and Geoffrey Mann, to be installed in the coming months. These new works will serve to further diversify its growing contemporary collection, which currently includes more than 70 pieces from the Museum’s permanent collection by lauded contemporary artists and designers such as Fred Wilson, Liza Lou, Kiki Smith, and Danny Lane.
“The opening of the Contemporary Art + Design Wing was a pivotal moment for the Museum,” said Dr. Karol Wight, president and executive director of CMoG. “CMoG is home to 3,500 years of glass, which provides the rare opportunity to experience the medium’s complete and complex history, appreciate its application as an artistic medium, and witness and participate in its creation all in one place. Contemporary artists are taking glass to a new scale, and our new wing allows us to showcase these monumental works in an ideal viewing atmosphere.”
In February, the Museum announced the appointment of Susie Silbert as its new curator of modern and contemporary glass. Silbert will assume the post in April and oversee future programming for the new wing’s five galleries, as well as the Ben W. Heineman Sr. Family Gallery of Contemporary Glass and the Modern Glass gallery. She will continue to expand the Museum’s collection of glass from 1900 through the present day. Silbert’s appointment follows the retirement of Tina Oldknow, who oversaw this collection from 2000 – 2015.
“Susie will bring invaluable insight to our modern and contemporary glass collections, through her unique curatorial vision and deep understanding of glass as a medium,” said Wight. “We look forward to the future explorations of contemporary art in glass she will inspire.”
The Contemporary Art + Design Wing offers a unique viewing experience through its design, the works on view, and its curatorial interpretation. Phifer designed curving white walls that draw the viewer’s eye through the galleries to encounter dynamic visual juxtapositions, capitalizing on the free-standing nature of the majority of the works on view. Visitors also have the rare opportunity to experience glass in natural daylight through a complex skylight system resting upon concrete beams that evenly diffuse light through the gallery space. Phifer was recently awarded the AIANY Design Award for the wing, which honors projects by members of the American Institute of Architects New York chapter.
In February, the building became LEED Silver Certified, an award created by the U.S. Green Building Council, which recognizes green building practices and design. The Museum’s certification was based on the building’s water and energy efficiency and its reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. A unique feature of its sustainable design is the gallery’s lighting. Phifer’s vision of a day-lit building and the desire for energy efficiency necessitated a transition to LED lighting, which reduces the wing’s energy use for lighting by up to 76 percent. The new SORAA LED lighting provides crisp and clean light that blends seamlessly with the gallery’s natural daylighting system.
GlassApp, a web app that enables visitors to interact with the objects on view, was unveiled with the opening of the Contemporary Art + Design Wing. Featuring information on more than 70 objects, GlassApp includes videos, artist bios, label copy, and images to enhance the onsite visitor experience by highlighting current conversations in art, craft, and design. GlassApp is accessible on phones and tablets, as well as on home computers, and encourages users to share their own experiences via social media posts, which are broadcast on screens in the galleries. In its first year, 56,250 users from 112 countries accessed GlassApp.
The Amphitheater Hot Shop completes the contemporary viewing experience. Set inside the renovated Steuben Glass factory building, the new hot shop features 500 seats, with a viewing balcony running its perimeter, offering visitors a 360-degree view. The space has allowed the Museum to add significant programming to its popular Hot Glass Demos, including extended shows.
With the opening of the new Amphitheater, the Museum launched the Guest Artist Series, in which artists both familiar and new to the medium are invited to use the Amphitheater as an incubator for creativity and innovation; a space in which they can use the Museum’s unparalleled resources and staff to further their work. In its first year, the Amphitheater played host to Swedish artist and designer Bertil Vallien, Pueblo potter Virgil Ortiz, metal sculptor Albert Paley, and Venetian-style glassmaker James Mongrain. Upcoming Guest Artists include Italian maestro Lino Tagliapietra, who is widely regarded as the best living glass artist, and glass artist Toots Zynsky. Tagliapietra participated in the wing’s opening festivities and will return June 5 – 8. Following Tagliapietra’s work in the Hot Shop, Corning will host the 45th annual Glass Art Society conference from June 9 – 11, with many of the activities taking place at the Museum.
About Recent Acquisitions
Campana Brothers, Sphere Chandelier, Candy Collection, 2015
In 1983, Fernando and Humberto Campana founded the Estudio Campana in São Paulo, Brazil. Their creative practice aims to transform everyday materials into art objects. Inspired by Brazilian street life and carnival culture, the Campanas began their practice by making furniture from scrap and waste products such as cardboard, cloth and wood scraps, plastic tubes, stuffed toys, and aluminum wire, applying their handcrafted techniques and humble materials to new contexts through transformation and reinvention.
The Museum commissioned Sphere Chandelier from their Candy Collection and, last week, it was installed in the Contemporary Design Gallery. The chandelier is designed by the Campanas and manufactured by Lasvit, a Czech glass manufacturer specializing in high-end and custom design for furnishings, interiors, and architecture. Made of colorless glass, the chandelier is mold-blown and cased with brightly colored hot-applied glass cane. Glass has fascinated the Campanas since childhood, and the Candy Collection was inspired by the colorful candies sold in popular markets in Brazil and the way that colored glass appeared to melt like candy, which they observed during their first visit to Lasvit. The work builds on the colorful themes of the brothers’ “Sushi” series.
The Sphere Chandelier is the first Campana design to enter the Museum’s collection and is the Contemporary Art + Design Wing’s first example of contemporary Brazilian design.
The Campana brothers have an ongoing relationship with the Museum and were guest artists at the Museum's inaugural GlassLab during Design Miami in 2007. GlassLab is a mobile hot glass studio that provides designers with rare access to explore concepts in glass. In both public design performances and private workshops, designers and glassmakers collaborate to rapidly prototype design concepts using the immediacy of hot glass as a catalyst for innovation.
Karen LaMonte, Nocturne 5, 2015
Contemporary American glass artist Karen LaMonte explores the female form in her work to examine how clothing is a mediation between the self and the exterior world. The first American artist to work in the glass foundries in Železný Brod using monumental glass casting, LaMonte creates figurative art with the lost wax process, which is able to render great detail. Typically working in translucent colorless glass, LaMonte highlights the absent body beneath the clothing. Nocturne 5 is darker in color and sentiment than her previous work, and depicts a life-size, standing female wrapped in drapery with an ombre tone that brings to mind the setting sun and draws inspiration from ancient Greek Tanagra terracotta figurines.
Nocturne 5 was cast in three pieces that join at the waist and knees of the figure. The glass itself is a new formula developed by LaMonte to achieve her desired degree of color and density referencing dusk and the atmosphere of night. Nocturne 5 was conceived and realized using LaMonte’s unique fabrication process. LaMonte makes her artwork in several stages. She starts by taking a mold of a live model, which is used to make the impression of the underlying body. She completes the composition using drapery which defines the now absent figure.
She uses the lost-wax casting process to create the final sculpture in glass. Rubber molds of the clothed absent body are used to make a wax positive, then a plaster-silica mold is formed around the wax. Once dry and stable, the wax is melted out of the mold. Cold glass is stacked above the mold and the kiln is fired to the melting point, before being slowly cooled. Annealing the pieces of Nocturne 5 required eight weeks. Once fully annealed, the mold is removed from the glass. Rough spots are ground down, and the entire sculpture is finished with grit blasting and acid polishing.
Nocturne 5 will be the third work by LaMonte in the Museum's collection. When considered together, demonstrate her progression as an artist and technician over the past 20 years. In particular, Nocturne 5 features semi-opaque, sharper lines than her previous work. In the future, the Museum plans to display Nocturne 5 alongside Evening Dress with Shawl (2004) to inspire discussion on conceptions of beauty and the female body, art and craft, and the power of light and shadow in glass. LaMonte has said she could imagine the works installed together, each informing the other and inseparable like day and night.
Geoffrey Mann, Cross-fire, 2015
Geoffrey Mann is a Scottish artist and designer whose work challenges the boundaries of art, craft, and design. He creates models for his objects using digital technologies, and then has his objects made by craftsmen using traditional techniques. His work is based on observations of time and motion, and he traces invisible natural phenomena to explore the effects of sound and light on objects. His tableware designs and sculptures are conceptually and physically unique, documenting passing moments and incidents.
Among these groundbreaking designs is his Cross-fire series of works that is both aesthetically sophisticated and technically innovative. Made of borosilicate glass that is flameworked, Cross-fire is inspired by mapping the soundwaves of the 1999 film American Beauty. Using rapid prototyping, Mann created his models to illustrate the sound waves from the argument between the characters of Lester Burnham and his wife as they ricochet back and forth across the table, altering the ceramic dishes, glasses, and silver tableware, transforming the wine glass and decanter from simple, modern forms into highly irregular shapes. The Cross-fire wine glasses and water jug were designed in 2010 and fabricated in 2015. The decanter and stopper, inspired by the Cross-fire animation, were designed and fabricated in 2015. The objects are accompanied by 360-degree photography/animation, which the Museum will feature on its website. The glass objects were created with the assistance of John Liddell, a scientific glassblower, and the animations were made with the assistance of designer Chris LaBrooy. This is the first work of Mann’s to enter the Museum’s collection.