Famous Glass Blowers & Famous Glass Artists Past & Present [Updated]
Glassblowing as a process and art form has remained relatively unchanged for centuries. However, the work of master artisans over the past several decades proves that glassworking is anything but static. Several famous glassworkers around the world have pushed the perceived limits of the art form to create pieces formerly uncomprendable.
Below are ten must-know glassworkers from history and the present day that have rose to fame due to their creativity, skills, and persistence.
1) Rene Lalique
Rene Lalique was a jewelry designer turned glass artist. Born in 1860 in France, Lalique began his career as a Parisian jewelry maker but began experimenting with glass only five years into his jewelry career. Lalique’s glass designs included small bottles, vases, and other containers.
Perfumer Francois Coty saw Lalique’s work and invited him to work on perfume bottles for his company. Lalique shifted his focus from jewelry to glass production, creating new techniques using clear and frosted glass. Some of his most famous works include decorating the Cote d’Azur Pullman Express Train carriages in 1929 and creating chandeliers for the Normandie Luxury Liner.
Lalique helped to popularize the Art Deco movement through his work with glass and experimented with glassworking techniques still in practice today.
2) Dominick Labino
(1910–1987 United States)
Dominick Labino was an inventor, scientist, and glass artist. He worked with Harvey Littleton at the famous glass workshops Littleton ran in the 1960s. Labino figured out how to melt glass at a lower temperature and at a smaller scale to make glassblowing a more efficient process.
Over his lifetime, Labino held more than sixty patents for industrial glass processes and is credited with advancing glassworking as we know it. His experiments and scientific approach to the artform allowed him to formulate new glass compositions and build equipment.
Some of his most famous works include “Fountain with Blue” “Cased Aerial,” and “Polychroma,” which are all colored glass sculptures.
3) Harvey Littleton
(1922–2013, United States)
Considered the father of the American studio glass movement, Harvey Littleton is one of the most famous glassblowers of the 20th century. He hosted a glassblowing workshop in Toledo, Kansas in 1962, where with the help of Dominick Labino, he was able to melt glass at a lower temperature and thus work with it in a studio instead of a factory setting. L
ittleton went on to found the first glass program at the University of Wisconsin, which would educate famous glass artists such as Dale Chihuly. Littleton’s famous works include “Four Seasons,” “Opalescent Red Crown,” and “Implied Movement.” These glass sculptures showcase Littleton’s creativity and use of color and movement to create a sense of emotion and life in his glass pieces.
4) Vera Liskova
Vera Liskova was born in Czechoslovakia in 1924. She is one of most famous female lampworkers of the 20th century. Her work was shown in the Museum of Modern Art Show in 1950, where she was first recognized by the United States as a master of her craft.
Liskova is known for her use of clear glass and her intricate final products. Many of her pieces include spiny, sharp designs and clean lines. Both strong and delicate, Liskova’s work reflects the nature of the material used to create it. Liskova’s famous works include “Anthem of Joy in Glass” and “Harmonie.”
5) Marvin Lipofsky
(1938–2016, United States)
Marvin Lipofsky was one of the first students to work with Harvey Littleton at the University of Wisconsin. Part of the studio glass movement, Lipofsky taught and directed the University of California, Berkeley’s glass program and went on to develop a glass program at the California College of Arts and Crafts. Lipofsky taught his craft at workshops around the world and his work is still widely showcased in top museums worldwide.
Lipofsky’s work is prized for its rhythmic forms and abstract shapes. Most pieces also have vibrant colors blended expertly together. Lipofsky made a range of pieces from tombstones, to sculptures, to bird houses.
6) Dale Chihuly
(1941–Present, United States)
As the most famous glass artist alive today, Dale Chihuly has reinvented glassblowing through his asymmetrical, freeform pieces and innovative techniques. Chihuly relies on heavy experimentation to create his artwork and uses gravity and centrifugal force to create flowing and natural shapes with glass.
While known for a variety of different works, Chihuly is most famous for his large installations. His chandeliers and freestanding pieces are composed of hundreds of individual glass elements fused together. Some notable pieces include “Fireworks of Glass Tower and Ceiling” in Indianapolis, Indiana and “Sole d’Oro” in Asheville, North Carolina.
Chihuly is also an advocate with a passion for making art accessible to all. The Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation provides funding for individual artists and youth art programs in Washington State. Chihuly has also founded and headed several glass art schools and has led dozens of summer workshops on glassblowing.
7) Martin Blank
(1962–Present, United States)
Martin Blank began his career in glass by working with Dale Chihuly. His work is inspired by nature and the human form. His best known works include lotus flowers, abstract sculptures, and “Fluent Steps,” a 200 foot long outdoor sculpture at the Tacoma Museum of Glass. Blank describes himself as an intuitive artist, and focuses on negative space create form and fluidity in his work.
8) Carol Milne
(1962–Present, United States)
Carol Milne is the world’s only knitted glass artist. She began to work seriously in glass in 2000, after experimenting with clay, bronze, wood, and other materials. Her work is a metaphor for social structure. She describes how individual strands of her work are weak, but when woven together make a singular, strong piece.
Milne makes glass knit sculptures, teapots, sculptures, and more. Her use of color is vivid and organic. In addition to sculpting, Milne also teaches workshops and hosts exhibitions of her work around the United States.
9) Ritsue Mishima
Ritsue Mishima is a modern Venetian glass artist living in Italy. She uses colorless glass and a combination of traditional glassblowing techniques and contemporary decorative elements to make unique pieces. Mishima takes inspiration from nature and her pieces have organic shapes that show her love of natural lines and freeform design.
Mishima began her career by making vases, but now focuses on abstract sculpture. Her artwork takes form intuitively, and she explains that she rarely has a specific plan for each piece.
10) William Morris
(1957–Present, United States)
William Morris is a glass artist from California. He studied under Dale Chihuly and worked with him for ten years before forming his own glass studio. Morris is known for his glass sculptures that incorporate myth, ancestry, and ancient civilizations.
Morris takes inspiration from Egyptian, Native American, and Asian cultures and makes pieces that honor the intelligence and tradition of peoples around the world. His work is part of collections in the Corning Museum of Glass, the American Glass Museum, the Auckland Museum, and more. His works include masks, vases, sculptures and figurines.