Sunday, October 26, 2008

Contemporary Glass Today

In past blogs I have mentioned how I thought Lotton glass would be as valuable as Tiffany's in the future. I still believe this to be a fact, but what if I told you that today, right now, there are contemporary glass artists that command prices equal to Tiffany? A contemporary artist is one that was working after 1975. Do you believe me? Well it's true and I will share a few of them with you today.

First, and perhaps best know, is Dale Chihuly. His work appears in museums around the world and he is a prolific producer of wonderful, whimsical pieces. He was born in 1941 and is still active today. He once made a chandelier that was more than 200 feet long. He broke away from traditional styles and produced pieces that utilize the natural flow of glass and combined that with very vivid color. His work is stunning! I found one of his pieces that sold for $48,850 at auction and I believe that he has sold several pieces privately for amounts larger than those sold at auction. His work gives new meaning to the word contemporary.

He isn't the only artist excelling in today's marketplace - another is William Morris. His work commands prices in excess of $30,000. I have seen some of the glass that he has formed and it is quite unusual. He had a connection to Dale Chihuly. My personal favorite, however, is Mark Peiser. You can find some of his average pieces on eBay but they don't represent the quality he exhibits when he undertakes his landscape masterpieces.

I have a story about my first encounter with Peiser's work. I was scanning one of the Cincinnati Art Gallery auction catalogs when I noticed a piece of glass that looked as if you could walk into it. The piece consisted of a forest with fallen trees laying on the ground with moss and flowers surrounding them. It was so real, my eyes could hardly take in what I was seeing. Knowing nothing about Mark Peiser, I decided I had to have this piece. If memory serves me correctly, the estimate was just a few thousand dollars and I was willing to bid up to the high estimate to acquire it. While waiting to bid I could feel my blood pressure rising as the number for this item approached. I didn't have long to wait as the initial bid exceeded the high estimate and the bidding didn't stop until it reached almost $20,000. Needless to say, I am still looking for one of those pieces for my collection.

There is a great book entitled “Masterpieces of American Glass” by Jane Shadel Spillman and Susanne K. Frantz that would be a great addition to your resource library. This book contains work by the above-mentioned artist, plus many more that you should watch for. There is contemporary and then there is “contemporary” - wouldn't you agree?

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