glass - A hard material made of silicates and an alkali fuse with other substances. It is brittle, transparent or translucent, and considered to be a supercooled liquid rather than a true solid. It solidifies from a molten state, in an amorphous rather than a crystalline structure. Oxides fused within or upon molten glass can produce intense colors.
In the Stone Age objects were carved from natural glass such as obsidian and rock crystal. The earliest known manufactured glass is from Egypt, c. 2000 BCE. Much was produced by the artisans of the Roman empire. Following the fall of Rome, however, there was very little glass manufactured in Europe until the tenth century, when stained glass appeared. As in ancient times, glassmakers fuse their materials at high temperatures in fire brick containers. Then the molten glass is boiled, skimmed, and cooled several degrees so that it can be ladled or poured into mold and pressed, or blown, or drawn. In its final shape, the glass is annealed to relieve stresses caused by manipulation, then slowly cooled. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance the principal center of European glass-making was on the island of Murano at Venice.
Twentieth century innovations with glass include fiberglass and safety glass, although plastics have replaced glass in some applications. Much of the credit for the current resurgence of interest in glass art is given to Harvey Littleton (American, 1922-). Other leading artists working in glass include Dale Chihuly (American, 1941-), Marvin Lipofsky (American, 1938-), and Mary Shaffer (American, 1947-).
A relatively new meaning for the term glass: In the making of a DVD, a test disc. Once a "glass" has been judged satisfactory, DVDs like it are manufactured for the marketplace. [citation: New York Times, Aug. 27, 2000, Arts & Leisure, p.14.]
"Glass" is also used sometimes as a synonym for lens.
Examples of works in glass:
Egypt, c. 1400-1300 BCE (18th Dynasty), Flask, glass, 10 x 7.2 cm, Louvre. See Egyptian art.
Eastern Mediterranean, late sixth-fifth centuries BCE, Trefoil Juglet, glass, core-formed, 3 7/8 x 2 1/2 inches (10 x 6.3 cm), Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory U, Atlanta, GA. Glass core-formed vessels were made around a disposable core of material (clay or sand mixed with an organic binder) which was covered with hot glass (a mixture of silica, lime, and alkali). It was then decorated by trailing threads of glass of various colors around it. The shapes imitated those of metal and stone vessels of the same period. Exported widely, glass vessels were considered very precious, not only because of the cost of manufacturing them but also because they were used as containers for expensive scented oils or powders.
Greece, Shallow bowl, Late Hellenistic, 1st century BCE, fused mosaic glass, height 3.43 cm, diameter 13 cm, George Ortiz collection. See Greek art.
Rome, Bowl, 1st century BCE, Late Republican, glass, height 1 1/2 inches (3.8 cm), diameter 7 1/8 inches (18.1cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. This bowl was cast using batches of different colored glass to create four roughly equal sections in translucent purple, yellow, blue, and colorless glass. See Roman art.
Attributed to Iran or Iraq, Beaker, 10th-11th century, blown, tooled, and relief-cut glass, height 5 3/8 inches (13.6 cm), diameter at lip 5 9/16 inches (14.2 cm), weight 118.932g, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See Islamic art.
Attributed to Egypt or Syria, Mamluk, Mosque lamp, late 13th century (before 1285), free blown, tooled, enameled, and gilded glass, 16 15/16 x 29 15/16 x 32 5/16 inches (43 x 76 x 82 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.
Egypt, Glass Lamp, mid-14th century, glass, enamel, gilt, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
American Flint Glass Manufactory (American, 1765-1774, Mannheim, PA), Pocket flask, c. 1765-1774, blown pattern-molded lead glass, height 4 3/4 inches (12.1 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.
Gérard-Jean Galle, French, Paris, Chandelier, 1818-1819, glass, enameled metal, gilt bronze, height 4 feet 3 inches; diameter 3 feet 2 inches (height 129.5 cm; diameter 96.5 cm), J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, CA.
Decimus Burton and Richard Turner (British), Palm House at Kew Gardens, London, England, 1844-48, a greenhouse of glass and iron for the Royal Botanic Gardens, length 363 feet, width 100 feet, height 66 feet.
John La Farge (American, 1835-1910), Peacock Window, 1892-1908, stained glass, Worcester Art Museum, MA.
England, Stourbridge, Thomas Webb & Sons (founded 1837), engraver George Woodall (English, 1850-1925), Vase, c. 1900, cameo glass, 8 1/2 x 4 inches (21.5 x 10.5 cm), Cincinnati Art Museum, OH. In English cameo glass, an object is made of cased (laminated) glass of two or more colors, one forming an overlay on the other. The top layer is engraved or cut away to leave a design in relief against a contrasting color. The process, similar to that used in ancient Egyptian and Roman times to carve cameos, was revived in Europe, especially in England, France, and Bohemia, in the 19th century.
Italy, Venice, Salviati workshop (Giuseppe Barovier?), Goblet with Crown and Initial 'C', c.1878, clear and colored opaque glass, height 33.8 cm, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Louis Comfort Tiffany (American, 1848-1933), designer; Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company (American, 1892-1902, Corona, NY), maker, Vase, 1893-1896, favrile glass, 14 1/8 x 11 1/2 inches (35.9 cm x 29.2 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.
Philip Johnson (American, 1906-), Johnson House, also known as The Glass House, New Caanan, Connecticut, 1949, steel frame with glass, with an open plan, and a bath in brick cylinder. The basic concept for the Johnson House came from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (German, 1886-1969) — his design for the Farnsworth House, 1947, IL. See architecture.
Harvey Littleton (American, 1922-), Lemon Red Crown, 1989, blown and drawn barium potash glass with multiple cased overlays of Kugler colors, drawn, cut, and polished, Milwaukee Art Museum.
Larry Bell (American, 1939-), Untitled, 1967, glass, coatings and metal, 36.2 x 36.2 x 36.2 cm, Tate Modern, London.
Dale Chihuly (American, 1941-), Persian Wall, 1996, blown glass, 60 x 208 x 18 inches, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO.
Brent Kee Young (American, 1946-), Bottoming Out, from the Glass Fossil Series, c. 1989, cased glass, Columbia Art Museum, SC.
Jaume Plensa (Spanish, 1955-), The Androgen, 2000, glass, stainless steel, fabric, 90 x 17 x 24 inches, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO. See Spanish art.
Dante Marioni (American, Seattle, 1964-), Yellow Leaf Vase, 1994, glass, 32 1/4 x 7 1/2 x 2 1/4 inches, diameter (foot) 6 inches (80.6 x 18.8 x 5.6 cm, diameter (foot) 15 cm), Cincinnati Art Museum, OH. See vase.
Also see acetate color, glaze, glazier, kaleidoscope, lattice, lens, mirror, mosaic, negative, pontil, punty, refraction, smalto, vitrify, and vitrine.