2012 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the studio glass program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The program, started by Harvey Littleton, revolutionized art glass in the United States by teaching individuals to make blown glass—previously factory-produced—in small studios.
Professor Harvey Littleton began his career at the UW in 1951 as a ceramicist. In the late ’50s he became interested in molten glass as a neglected American art form and traveled to Europe for research. In 1962, after organizing a workshop at the Toledo Museum of Art, he launched the first studio hot glass program at a U.S. university, beginning with an independent study class in his studio in Verona, Wisconsin. Under Littleton, the UW’s program and his early students—Dale Chihuly, Fritz Dreisbach, Tom McGlauchlin, Sam Herman, Marvin Lipofsky, Christopher Ries, and Michael Taylor—became leaders in the studio glass movement, spreading their knowledge and techniques across the country and around the world.
The exhibition Spark and Flame: 50 Years of Art Glass and the University of Wisconsin–Madison highlights the far-reaching influence of Littleton and the UW program. It will consist of two parts: the first focuses exclusively on works by Harvey Littleton; the second offers a survey of work by more than 100 glass artists, showing the national and international breadth of contemporary glass. Nearly 160 works will be drawn from four premier private glass collections: those of Harvey Littleton himself; Bruce and Ann Bachmann; Simona and Jerome Chazen; and David Kaplan and Glenn Ostergaard. Bruce Bachmann, David Kaplan, and Simona and Jerome Chazen are all UW–Madison alumni who became passionate about the studio glass program while students in Madison.
Spark and Flame: 50 Years of Art Glass and the University of Wisconsin–Madison is curated by Michael Monroe, director emeritus of the Bellevue Arts Museum, and previously executive director of the American Craft Council and curator-in-charge at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery. Monroe is also an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin.
Programming & Financial Support
Generous support for this exhibition is provided by the Chazen Museum of Art Council, the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission, the Evjue Foundation, the Brittingham Fund, the UW–Madison School of Education, and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.