With glass a relatively new art material (Harvey Littleton's seminal Toledo Workshop took place only in 1962), it's perhaps no surprise that the secondary market for work in glass is only now experiencing a maturation as resales pick up in volume. The value of works in glass, once mostly set in private transactions brokered by glass dealers or by appraisers documenting museum gifts, is being hammered out at public auction as an increasing supply of works at all price levels comes up for sale. As the generation that championed Studio Glass as it was ascendant in the 1980s and 1990s has reached an age where many are looking to sell or donate works, the supply of secondary works is growing, and sales are increasingly taking place in the open air of an auction with both established and new players. New York City auction houses such as Sotheby's and Bonham's organized Studio Glass sales throughout the 1990s and early-2000s, but in recent years, much of the activity has coalesced around Lambertville, New Jersey-based Rago Auctions, which studiously publishes sales prices of its glass-art auctions and provides exhaustive condition reports at all price levels.
Viewing: Art Market
In the gallery above, the GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet presents its annual "Red Dot Report," surveying works that sold at the SOFA CHICAGO art fair in early November. With the Chicago Cubs historic World Series win, and their celebratory parade the following Friday impeding access to Navy Pier, this year's SOFA got mixed reviews from exhibiting dealers. Maurine Littleton, owner of Maurine Littleton Gallery, in Washington, D.C. said that while this year's fair was better than last year, the pre-election contentious political climate and the Cubs crowds weren't helpful to sales. While the overall the fair was okay, it didn't match the really strong SOFA she had in 2014, said Littleton, adding that the two subsequent years have fallen flat. Kurt Nelson, owner of Palette Contemporary Art and Craft in Albuquerque, New Mexico, said that while the show was big enough this year, there was so much work in glass that it seemed almost saturated.
Seattle is basking in its inaugural art fair this weekend, enjoying good press, good crowds, good weather, and an encouraging number of red dots. The glass art shown at the 2015 Seattle Art Fair, which opened on July 30 and ended today, represents a wide range of invention and ideas.
The fourth annual exhibition and sale of contemporary art jewelry known as "Bijoux!" will kick off this evening with a preview party at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida. Since 2012, this regional art museum has presented one-of-a-kind contemporary art jewelry pieces, with the opportunity to purchase the work of over 40 artists from around the world. While some of the jewelry is made from gold, silver, porcelain, beads, acrylic, iron, steel, and diamonds, the work by five glass artists —Nirti Dekel of Israel; Leslie Ann Genninger of Italy; Jed Green of the U.K.; Amy Lemaire of the U.S.; and Grainne Morton of Scotland—is of special note. The four-day exhibition will only run through March 1st.
On Sunday, the celebrities from the worlds of entertainment and from the international contemporary art scene that have descended on Miami, Florida, for the star-studded Art Basel - Miami Beach and the longer-running Art Miami expositions will head home as the annual event winds down. Glass is playing a lead role in several of the works displayed at both of the glittering twin art fairs which bring an impressive pedigree to their respective events. Art Basel has been around since the 1970s, originally founded by three gallery owners (Trudi Bruckner, Balz Hilt and Ernst Beyeler) in the Swiss city for which the fair is named. Over the decades, its influence has grown within the artistic community, drawing in work from galleries and artists from across the world. This year, Art Basel Miami Beach turns 12 and boasts a total of 250 galleries in attendance. While Art Miami isn’t quite as international, it is turning 25 this year, and boasts a similar level of exclusivity within the community, playing hosts to a number of galleries known for showing work in glass. This year in particular, Art Miami has 125 galleries in attendance.
Habatat Galleries in West Palm Beach, Florida, has become one of the first commercial glass art galleries in the U.S. to host a show of glass pipes in a fine-art context. The opening weekend saw $135,000 in sales, according to Lindsey Scott, the gallery's president. In the week-and-a-half since the November 7th, 2014 opening of the "Counter Culture Glass" exhibition, a total of 17 pieces have sold, she said. In total, the Habatat Florida event showcases 38 functional pipes by 41 artists. While there are plenty of retail outlets for borosilicate functional pipes—and venues such as Illuzion Glass Galleries in Denver, Colorado, cultivate an art-gallery environment—even the most high-end of these pipe-focused businesses don't bring an art-world imprimatur, something many pipe-makers are anxious for their work to achieve. As discussed in a feature article in the Fall 2014 edition of GLASS (#136), the trend toward the decriminalization of marijuana in the United States makes the display of paraphernalia less of a legal liability, and could usher in a new perspective on borosilicate pipes.
As the 2014 edition of the Sculpture Objects Functional Art + Design fair wound down on Sunday, November 9, there was a sense that change was in the air. The red dots were spread around the more than 20 exhibition spaces at Navy Pier's Festival Hall featuring glass, with the Blue Rain exhibition of Preston Singletary's blown-glass homage to Native American iconography possibly the most commercially successful display of blown work. Over at Hawk Galleries display, Casandra Blackmore's reverse painted works on shattered glass sold briskly, as did the cameo-engraved work of April Surgent at Heller Gallery. But there was another strong market trend toward show-stopping pieces by up-and-coming artists who made up for a lack of name recognition with work that demanded greater attention.
Coming off a successful inaugural year, the second Collective Design Fair opens today and runs through May 11th, 2014, in Skylight at Moynihan, highlighting limited editions of design pieces and one-of-a-kind artworks in various media. Glass figures in many of the exhibitors displays, primarily in various approaches to lighting from the French Art Deco-style designs at Maison Gerard, to the sculptural glass lighting by Thaddeus Wolfe and Jeff Zimmerman at R and Company, to a mix of lighting and fine art glass works at Wexler Gallery, which blurs the boundaries between art and design. A series of discussions entitled Collective Conversations
Red Hook, Brooklyn-based Pier Glass, reopened in April of this year after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, but some essentials such as the furnace and glory holes are still in need of replacing, and the cold shop is still in partial commission. …
With the highest attendance numbers since the pre-recession expo in 2007, the 20th anniversary of SOFA CHICAGO looks to have been an encouraging sign for the much-discussed future of the art market for work in glass. The official attendance figure was 34,000, a 2,000-person increase over 2012, and chats with some dealers indicated that many of those who came were there to buy. The show felt busy from the opening Thursday night cocktail party to the surprisingly crowded Sunday afternoon. This year's fair was also more filled with exhibitors, with 65 dealers, including many international galleries. With new owners taking over the well-established SOFA brand name (The Atlanta-based show management company Urban Expositions purchased the show earlier this year), many were nervous about the transition, but with founder Marc Lyman staying on as a consultant (though less visible during the show than in years past) and Donna Davies maintaining her role as fair director, it seems to have been a smooth changing of hands, with several dealers offering the GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet very positive feedback on logistics this year.