How did Tiffany Studios harness light in its iconic leaded-glass lampshades and windows? It was all about the glass. Its quality, luminosity and vast palette of color, texture, and pattern were key. That’s the distilled message conveyed by the curator of Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light, which opened at the Woodson Art Museum on Saturday and remains on view through February 26, 2017.
An artist who became passionate about creating translucent pictures via colorful glass, Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of the Tiffany & Company founder, throughout his fifty-year career became the tastemaker of the late nineteenth century’s Gilded Age. As he directed Tiffany Studios, he revolutionized the centuries-old stained-glass tradition through relentless experimentation, said Lindsy Parrott, the Tiffany Glass curator, during her exhibition-opening-weekend presentation on Saturday to 70 attendees. Lindsy also is the director of The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, Queens, NY, which organized this exhibition and stewards a glass archive of nearly a quarter of a million pieces of Tiffany Studios glass in a vast array of colors and textures.
Why did Tiffany develop, for example, seventy-two hues of green?
The key to painting with light was to manipulate light in masterful ways. Harnessing light required making and selecting glass pieces that varied in transparency and translucency throughout a wide spectrum of colors that dazzled when illuminated. Tiffany Glass showcases this range in opalescent, ripple, streaky, confetti, spotted, and even drapery glass that conveys the illusion of subtle shading on foliage, fabric folds, and dappled sunlight.
If you missed the opportunity to attend Lindsy’s presentation, her insights are available via her narration of the Woodson Art Museum’s audio tour app videos. To see a sampling of these videos that feature stories about the artists, designers, glass chemists, and collectors, visit the Museum’s website; two videos are on the Museum’s audio tour webpage and a third is on the Museum’s Tiffany Glass exhibition webpage.
Visit soon and often now through Sunday, February 26, to experience Tiffany Glass and see samples of The Neustadt’s glass archive treasure trove. Learn about nuances that help connoisseurs distinguish genuine Tiffany Studios lamps and windows from forgeries, those items that Lindsy calls “Tiff phonies.” Bask in the glow of vibrantly colorful, translucent artworks that will beckon you and yours to return often throughout the holiday season and beyond to further explore these radiant artworks.