From tableware to contemporary Art - Tina Oldknows new book 'Collecting Contemporary Glass'. By Cl. Schack von Wittenau.
Who in the 'glass community' doesn't know Tina Oldknow, the long standing curator for modern and contemporary glass at The Corning Museum of Glass, who has presented numerous groundbreaking publications on this theme, who described the endowment of the Ben Heineman collection 2005 to the museum as one of the highlights of her career and now the establishing of the Contemporary Art + Design Wing, the new north wing of the museum as the crowning moment of her long standing activity? 2014 accompanying its inauguration on 20th March of this year and, with that a year and a half before her retirement in September, the author publishes a further, extensive book.
Tina Oldknow arrived at Corning in 2000. In her introductory essay she vividly describes the collecting history of the museum in the time of the founding director Tom Buechner to the curatorship of Susanne K. Frantz, her predecessor who, from 1985 to her retirement in 1998, was responsible for the glass of the 20th century. Her activity is presented in a particularly detailed manner by the author and, it appears that she wants to tie-in with the still definitive work Contemporary Glass. A World Survey from The Corning Museum of Glass by Susanne Frantz published in 1989; in her book Tina Oldknow examines the glass scene from 1990 till today. Above all this has changed a great deal in the last 15 years, a new approach to art in glass has been tried. The author believes it leads back to the 'open access studios', whereby fine artists rent the studios and can realise their creative concepts with the aid of glass makers. Yet, were it not also conceivable that a fundamental change of perception paved the way to those openly accessible studios? Thus impulses already emanated from those attending glass classes at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam and the academies in Prague and Munich in the early 1990s to refute the material properties of glass and to formulate the artistic messages through the work itself. At the time that was revolutionary.
Clearly the focal point of the book is, however, the substantial catalogue section. Through her many personal contacts with artists, her extensive jury activity, the many curated exhibitions and numerous trips around the world, Tina Oldknow has acquired a vast fund of knowledge. It reflects in sensitive accompanying texts to the objects by 100 artists that are arranged alphabetically, independent of their nationality. The texts are supported by the attached comments. Impressive images make the reading a visual treat, excellent artists are, in many cases, represented by several pieces. In the choice of objects, naturally predominantly American artists – in interaction with representatives from the remaining international glass scene and across the generations, the previously addressed change of opinion is clearly reflected: painting, sculptures, glass installations, in part significant dimensions prevail. Also against this backdrop the museum's spatial north wing extension is clearly understandable for the reader. Remains to be emphasized at the end: no museum library that has devoted itself to collecting contemporary glass art should be without this book; the same goes for private collectors.
Tina Oldknow: Collecting Contemporary Glass. Art and Design after 1990 from The Corning Museum of Glass. The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York, 2014. Hardcover, 288 pages with 206 colour illustrations. In the addendum detailed artists' cv's, bibliography and artists' register. ISBN 978-0-87290-201.5. Price: $ 85 in the Corning museum shop, order online: http://glassmarket.cmog.org