Marvin Lipofsky: Great Balls of Fire
Exploring Lipofsky’s Uncommon Use of Overblow
11 May 2017
Counted among the first Studio Glass artists in America, Marvin Lipofsky earned an M.F.A. in 1964 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied under the founder of the American Studio Glass Movement, Harvey Littleton. Lipofsky is responsible for introducing the Studio Glass Movement in California through his professorship at University of California, Berkeley and as founder of the Glass Program at the California College of Arts and Crafts in San Francisco.
In 1970, Lipofsky was invited to work at the Nuutajärvi Glass Factory in Finland. It was there that he observed other glass artists removing the "overblow" from their works - a superfluous ‘glob’ of glass forced out during the blowing process. Lipofsky was inspired to incorporate the “overblow” into his own sculptures. He named these pieces the Suomi-Finland 1970 series. Rago is pleased to offer pieces from this series in our upcoming May 21 Modern Ceramics + Glass auctions.
“The best part about this auction’s offerings is that we typically only have one or two pieces of Lipofsky’s work. And that’s if we’re lucky,” says Suzanne Perrault, Rago Partner + Co-Director of 20th-21st C. Design Department, “But this auction features five works in the same experimental form from the same 1970’s series.”
Lipofsky’s creations are not functional. Inspired by organic shapes such as human organs, they focus on form, creating what Perrault refers to as “globby” sculptures or “bubbles of glass.” Semi-translucent glass allows the viewer to appreciate the depth of the pieces.
Lipofsky died in January 2016. He was deeply mourned by the makers and collectors of the art glass and studio art community, many of whom had been his students. His work lives on in the collections of several public institutions, including the Corning Museum of Glass, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Rago extends thanks to Jeanette Bokhur of the Lipofsky Studios for her contributions to this blog.