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Collectors drive prices of some glass works toward $1 million

Post Time:Jul 14,2008Classify:Industry NewsView:429

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Artist William Carlson dips the large steel ladle into the blazing furnace and fills it with liquid glass. With sweat pouring down his face, he quickly moves to a graphite mold he has made and pours in the seething yellow liquid.

He is making glass wall tiles with an imprint of fiber knots in them that he will remove with tweezers. This will leave a "fossil" of the knot. The tiles will then be hung together in a grid format. Carlson said he is trying to start a discourse about language with the way he lays out the fiber.

Glass art is attracting more admirers and collectors today, and it is gaining more attention as a fine art as artists explore more with the medium. Meanwhile, prices for pieces are on the rise.

"It’s a maturation of the field. More and more we are seeing people interested," said Michael Heller, vice president of the Heller Gallery in New York, where glass art is sold. "More and more collectors have also started to realize the value of work that has integrity."

The artistic content of glass art has developed over the past decade or so, artists say.

"It’s kind of coming of age where ‘craft’ is no longer the title of the work. Craft is the means to an end. ... It really is the strength of the concept and power of the image," said Carlson, who also teaches at the University of Miami in Coral Gables.

Fran Kaufman, director of the contemporary art fair palmbeach3, said the reason glass art is on the rise is because many collectors aren’t purchasing just one type of art anymore, but varying the kinds of art they collect. Prices also are getting higher, which is enticing people to buy it.

"Prices getting higher, that is appealing to collectors. People are looking beyond the more traditional glass pieces. ... Collections are not so specific anymore," Kaufman said. "I think the experimentation has grown more."

Mark Lyman, director of the two annual shows called SOFA, which take place in New York and Chicago, said that 10 to 15 years ago an expensive glass piece would cost between $50,000 to $100,000. Now, such works can reach anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million.

"It’s a very active market for them," Lyman said of the glass pieces. "It’s really come along. ... We’re seeing a lot of growth and strength."

In an effort to expand public awareness, collectors Sheldon and Myrna Palley of Miami donated about 100 pieces that they have been amassing since the 1970s to the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum. The exhibit opened last month.

Some artists credit Seattle-based Dale Chihuly for getting their art more publicity. His colorful glass works have reached audiences across the United States and throughout the world.

Studio glass was introduced into college programs in the 1960s and then increasingly explored by students. It really started being considered art after 1960 when artists began to work in their own studios and not in factories.

Source: Associated PressAuthor: admin

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