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50th Anniversary of the American Studio Glass Movement

The American Studio Glass Movement begins with the story of Harvey Littleton, ceramicist turned glass sculptor (credited as the “Father of the American Studio Glass Movement” for the 1962 glassblowing seminar he developed for studio artists at the Toledo Museum of Art). It is a story worthy of admiration and respect.

A passionate educator, Littleton originated university-level glass programs (at the University of Wisconsin–Madison) and promoted glass as a course of study at university departments in the Midwest and northeastern United States. The late glass expert Dan Klein (1938–2009), in his publication Artists in Glass: Late Twentieth Century Masters in Glass (Mitchell Beasley, London 2001), wrote that Littleton’s “aim was to take the manufacture of glass out of its industrial setting and put it within the reach of the studio artist.”

Littleton's students, Robert Fritz and Marvin Lipofsky laid the foundation for private and public glass education in the San Francisco Bay Area – underscoring Littleton’s evangelism of glass as an artistic medium from humble Wisconsin beginnings to present-day world-class museum collections throughout the United States.

This year, more than 160 museums across the United States celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the American Studio Glass Movementconvincing evidence of Littleton’s success.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the American Studio Glass movement, 2012 is a year of multiple opportunities to view exhibitions of work made by students (in many cases, students descended from students) of Harvey Littleton. A list of 2012 studio glass events can be found here, as promoted by the Art Alliance of Contemporary Glass, a national, and international, group of glass collectors.

Locally,  the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (at the de Young), will open its exhibition, Reflections: Celebrating 50 Years of the Studio Glass Movement on Saturday, October 27. A special lecture by California's Studio Glass Pioneer, Marvin Lipofsky, will be held on November 9 at the Koret Auditorium. On the other side of the bay, the Oakland Museum of California will host its exhibition, Playing with Fire: Artists of the California Studio Glass Movement from October 27, 2012 through March 24, 2012 (exhibition catalog available by request from info@micaela.com).