A publication of Micaëla Gallery tim
on the occasion of the exhibition:
MARVIN LIPOFSKY Survey 1969 - 2009
Survey 1969 - 2009
September 1 - October 31, 2009
Images copyright Marvin Lipofsky.
Introductory text by Randall Miller, copyright Micaëla Gallery, LLC
Marvin Lipofsky and the Mistress of the World, copyright Todd Levin
Marvin Lipofsky: An Appreciation, copyright James Yood
Photo credits: M. Lee Fatherree
Many thanks to Jeanette Bokhour, Assistant Extraordinaire to Marvin Lipofsky, for
her quiet comments, gentle guidance, invaluable support and ready wit;
to Danielle Grant and Natalia Pudzisz, Assistants to Micaëla V. Van Zwoll;
to Ashley Cownan, Shannon Geddes, Elizabeth Kuntze, Alyssa Morasco, and Esmar
Sullivan, Interns at Micaëla Gallery, for their many contributions to this exhibition;
and to George Lawson of George Lawson Gallery, San Francisco.
Design and Layout: Micaëla V. Van Zwoll
For inquiries or copies of this catalog, please contact Micaëla Gallery
49 Geary Street, No. 234, San Francisco, CA 94108 USA
micaela.com firstname.lastname@example.org 415.551.8118
cover image: L’viv Group 2001-2002 #2
Survey 1969 - 2009
Marvin Lipofsky and the Mistress of the World
by Todd Levin
Marvin Lipofsky: An Appreciation
by James Yood
Marvin Lipofsky working at the Blenko Glass Company, Milton, West Virginia, 1968
Marvin Lipofsky’s use of glass as a gestural artistic material helped to reinvent a centuries-old craft tradition
as a Modernist art form. His sculptures crystallize a lifetime of travel and material investigation, as well
as the sumptuous colors of the natural landscape, the visceral forms of the body, and the alchemical
processes of manipulating blown glass. As an artist, educator, and inveterate traveler, Lipofsky has been
an inspirational force throughout the international glass community for more than four decades.
Nowhere has Lipfosky's influence been greater than in the San Francisco Bay Area. After earning his
MS and MFA in 1964 from the University of Wisconsin at Madison under the tutelage of Harvey Littleton,
Lipofsky initiated glass programs at the University of California at Berkeley in 1964 and at the California
College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland in 1967 where he served as chair until 1987. Throughout decades
of travel, Berkeley, California has been a consistent point of return for the artist, helping to establish the
Bay Area as one of the preeminent centers of studio glass production.
Marvin Lipofsky has created work and led workshops at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design (Jerusalem,
Israel), the Union of Bulgarian Artists (Sofia, Bulgaria), Haystack Mountain School of Crafts (Deer Isle,
Maine), Pilchuck Glass School (Stanwood, Washington), Fratelli Toso (Venice, Italy), and The Gerrit
Rietveld Academie (The Netherlands) where he was the first Visiting Artist Critic.
His work can be found in over 90 collections worldwide, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern
Art, M. H. de Young Memorial Museum (San Francisco, CA), the Oakland Museum of California (Oakland,
CA), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY), Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art (Sapporo, Japan),
Detroit Institute of Art (Detroit, MI), Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia, PA), Carnegie Museum
of Art (Pittsburgh, PA), Musée d’Art Contemporain (Skopje, Yugoslavia), Museum Für Kunsthandwek
(Frankfurt, Germany), Umeleckoprumyslove Muzeum (Prague, Czech Republic), Auckland City Art Gallery
(Auckland, New Zealand), All-Russia Decorative, Applied and Folk Art Museum (Moscow, Russia), and
Renwick Gallery, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution (Washington, D.C.).
“...It is Art which makes life, makes interest, makes importance...and I know no substitute whatever for the force
and beauty of its process...”
- Henry James
Marvin Liposky and the Mistress of the World
Pascal called the imagination “...the mistress of the world, the superb power, the enemy of reason...
it disposes all things....it creates beauty, justice, and happiness.” If we accept Pascal’s premise - that
the imagination is the power of the mind over things - then it stands to reason that the artistic nature of
any idea depends upon the mind through which it passes, for ideas are not inherently artistic in and of
themselves. The imagination of the artist is clear and keen, and its achievement lies in its attempt to
bridge the abstract gap between fact and miracle. But of what real use is the imagination of the artist to
us, the casual viewer?
It is not to lead us out of the havoc that we find ourselves in the midst of everyday. Nor is the role of
the artist and their imagination to comfort us while we are constantly barraged with an onslaught of
information from myriad sources. I think that the function of the artist is to make their imagination ours,
to gradually watch their imagination glitter in our mind. The role of the artist, in short, is to help us live
our lives. The artist does this by creating a world to which we can turn to, again and again, so that we
eventually are unable to conceive of our lives without the artist’s imagination and feeling. Art is one of the
sacraments of life - the crucial interface between the imagination and reality, the thing that makes life a
deeper and broader thing than what it might be without such insight.
The artist discovers through their own imagination and feelings what they deem to be art. The artist then
reveals the freedom of their imagination to us through the artwork they subsequently create, and that is
the artist’s distinction - as our distinction as the viewer is to be the recipient of the artist’s imagination and
feeling. But while this revelation - the actual artwork produced - may define to the artist what is art, it is
not the invention of a definition of art. By this, I mean the art itself - the naked artwork - is the imagination
and feeling of the artist revealing itself in the artwork they create.
The artist’s imagination reflects reality, but more importantly, reality reflects the artist’s imagination. The
artist’s imagination is constantly pressing up against the pressure of reality. The creation of an artwork
releases this pressure as energy. This energy is the force capable of turning the substance of the artist’s
imagination into subtlety, and creates a sympathetic resonance in our own reality by the sheer force of
the artist’s will. If the philosopher’s world is:
[the whole world + thought]
Then the artist’s world is:
[the whole world + imagination]
Marvin Lipofsky’s sculptures are not artworks about a specific philosophical position, or didactic critical
stance. Lipofsky’s sculptures illuminate his own personal sense of the world. For the artist, this sense
is immense and inexorable. If the artist strays too far from this sense, they are in danger of becoming
artificial or didactic. While artifice or didacticism may be used skillfully, they are not essential things.
Lipofsky’s artworks are about the enlargement of life, without pretense, beyond a desire for simplistic
definitions. The inherent interest in his artworks is not in their meaning, but in that they illustrate the
realization of his individual reality.
In trying to comprehend what glitters in the space between Lipofsky’s artwork and the mind of the viewer,
we gradually realize that the artist demands we participate within the sphere of his artwork’s influence,
rather than merely understand it. The imagination becomes passive when it ceases to participate with,
and only attempts to understand an artwork. When we simply understand an artwork, we hear the remote
rumble of rhetoric. But when we participate with an artwork, we become intimate with an artist whom we
may never meet, and the artist becomes intimate with us.
Lipofsky’s artworks have a reality of their own in the the art world, as well as in the real world. The
pressure we feel when we are in their midst is no longer the pressure of reality, since the imagination has
created and accepted them. But something else in one’s imagination is moved. It is persistent, and it
is this very persistence that moves us. It is the persistence of the artist, who for the past forty years has
shared with us an emotional level of intensity that demands we look aggressively, and not passively. One
gets an extraordinary effect from seeing things as they are, which is to say from looking aggressively.
But to look at things aggressively, is not necessarily to see things as they are. It comes to this - that the
structure of Lipofsky’s art is a part of the structure of his personal imagination, or, in effect, that his artwork
and his imagination are one.
We all live in the mind. And if we live in the mind, we live with the imagination. Art is the imagination of
life, so intensely felt, that it has entered into, and become an integral part of us. But we can lose sight
of this crucial force, until someone like Pascal, or Marvin Lipofsky, reminds us of it. The world about us
would be bleak except for the world within us, and the work of Marvin Lipofsky bears witness to this fact.
It is plain then, in this world of apathy and vanity, when we encounter artwork by Marvin Lipofsky, that we
experience something that staggers and affects us. Lipofsky’s artwork does what art should do, namely,
lead us to a fresh conception of the world.
- Todd Levin
Marvin Lipofsky: An Appreciation
I’m going to resist what is the almost universal impulse for writers to present Marvin Lipofsky as the
inveterate globetrotter who ceaselessly crisscrosses the planet to create his work, as the ultimate road warrior
who may have literally traveled more miles to act as a creative artist than any person in the history of human
civilization. I’m going to avoid concentrating on his peripatetic nature not because it isn’t important, even
a cursory leafing through this catalogue alerts you to the fact that this is a restless artist who doesn’t mind
airports and has some form of wanderlust embedded in his being. Instead, I’m going to focus on something
every bit as intriguing, and that is where each journey Lipofsky takes begins and ends, in California.
Marvin Lipofsky is actually from my part of the country, born and raised outside Chicago, who studied
glass with Harvey Littleton at the University of Wisconsin. He has lived in California, particularly in the Bay
Area, for 45 years now, and whether it’s Kentucky or Bulgaria, China or Israel, it is to California that he
returns with the work he fabricates while on the road, and it is in California that he grinds, cuts, polishes, and
coaxes that material into art. It may be my distance from California that enhances this impression, but it is
in Marvin Lipofsky’s work that I find aspects of its place in the American mind most clearly articulated. His
sculptures exude a sense of organic effusiveness, a kind of celebration of surging life forces, an up-tempo
churning of color and form that poetically offers the contexts of California, its curious conjunction of sun and
sea, of mountain and desert, of dense urban matrix juxtaposed with suddenly vacant landforms. His work
is free, often literally turning in on itself, and everywhere suggests a California where anything is possible,
where his visionary imagination can find a physical metaphor in manipulating the oozing tactility of hot glass
into an exuberant simulacrum of the processes of nature itself.
Yes, to Lipofsky the fabrication of the core components of his sculpture in places such as Russia
and Tacoma is crucial, it allows him to work intensively with other artists, tapping into the traditions and
environments he encounters, rooting his work in the collegial and collaborative nature of glassblowing, and
it offers him that special performative energy, akin to the happenings he experienced in Berkeley and San
Francisco on his arrival in California in the 1960s. It’s a bit like musicians jamming, Lipofsky’s work around
the world, that moment when individual artists begin to create as a group, separate personalities set aside
in the sheer joy of working together. But it’s not the ephemera of jamming to Lipofsky, he and his colleagues
in Japan or the Czech Republic know they are at work at the raw material of his subsequent sculpture, the
stakes are raised, what might have been a relaxed demonstration session gets heightened into something
else, the residue of which is somehow retained in Lipofsky’s subsequent sculptures.
And what sculptures! The greatest irony in the sculpture of Marvin Lipofsky is that we have in him
one of the finest colorists anywhere in contemporary art, an artist with a hair-trigger sensitivity to hue and
tone, to the evocative suggestive of just that color breathing next to just this color, the ebb and flow of tone
coursing in and through his pieces, now subtle, then exhilatory, here restrained, there chaotic, first muted
and sedate, then so frenzied and interwoven as to offer a completely self-contained universe. It’s stunning
that this extraordinary empathy for color can exist in a sculptor. The special conjunction of form and color
in his work, the way that colors move in real space, folding and unfolding in front of us, physically as well
as visually cursive, is color made volumetric, almost a contradiction in terms, making its usual privileged
location in the history of painting seem oddly flat. These are sculptures you dive into, turned to and fro,
surrendering to their curvy sensuousness, following Lipofsky’s rivulets of form to unexpectedly poetic and
poignant ends. It’s so, well, California, a celebration of sea and sky and land that for him required threedimensionality,
like but unlike a shell pulled from the sea, like but unlike a deconstructed vessel or bowl, like
but unlike a fantastic rock form or the hills east of the bay, organic and abstract, with rich interior and exterior
Marvin Lipofsky is not, of course, a California artist, he is an artist who lives in California. But place has
a subtle way of impacting an artist’s vision, the things we see every day help construct how we understand
the world. California is a lot of things, but it is certainly a place where the efforts to understand the nature/
culture dichotomy is omnipresent. Lipofsky’s arrival there in the heyday of San Francisco in the 1960s, with
its promise of a cultural revolution where anything seemed possible, and his innate sensitivity to nature and
its core processes augmented by the California environment has given him a lot to think about, and a lot to
celebrate. It’s an old witticism—“Wherever you go, there you are.” But it’s also just as true for wherever you
James Yood teaches art history at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is a contributing editor to GLASS
magazine and writes regularly for Artforum.
Marvin Lipofsky with blown sculptures and drawing at Pilchuck Glass School. 1984
California Loop Series #4
Blown glass, paint, rayon flocking
Dimensions: 10.5 x 14.5 x 8 in.
Blown at University of California, Berkeley, California
Sussmuthglas 1980-81 #10
Dimensions: 8 x 9.5 x 9.5 in.
Blown at Sussmuthglas, Immenhausen, Germany
Marvin Lipofsky and Gianni Toso, working at the Venini Glass Factory, Murano, Italy, 1972.
Fratelli-Toso Series: Split Piece 1976-1980
Dimensions: 11 x 2 x 14 in.
Blown at Fratelli-Toso, Murano, Italy
with help from Gianni Toso
Marvin Lipofsky assisted by Carol Schreitmueller at
California College of Arts and Crafts (CCA), Oakland, California, 1982.
California Storm Series 1982 #4
Dimensions: 11.5 x 13 x 11 in.
Blown at California College of Arts and Crafts (CCA),
with help from Carol Schreitmueller
Miasa Group 1987 #8
Dimensions: 8 x 10.5 x 9 in.
Blown at Miasa Bunka Center, Miasa, Japan
with help from Makoto Ito, Yoshihiko Takahashi, Kenji Kato
Marvin Lipofsky, working at the Glass Studio in Otaru, Japan.
Preparing wood forms for the mold, 1987
Otaru Series 1987 #6
Dimensions: 9 x 13 x 11 in.
Blown at The Glass Studio in Otaru, Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan
with help from Mitsunobu Sagawa.
Marvin Lipofsky working with Ivan on the
Soviet Series. 1st International Blown Glass
Symposium, L’vov Experimental Ceramico-
Sculptural Factory, L!vov USSR, 1989
Soviet Series 1989
Dimensions: 14 x 16 x 11.5 in.
Blown at L’vov Experimental
Ceramico-Sculptural Factory, L’vov,
USSR, with help from Ivan and Sasha.
Dieulefit Group Wall Piece 1990-1996 #1 (left) and #4 (right)
13.5 x 10.5 x 7 in. (left)
12 x 12.5 x 4 in. (right)
Blown at Le Pontil Studio, Dieulefit, France
with help from Claude Morin.
Marvin Lipofsky working with Joseph
Rasocha at the International Glass
Symposium IV, Crystalex Hantich Factory,
Novy Bor, Czechoslovakia, 1991.
IGS IV Czech Flowers 1991-1992 #2
Dimensions: 9 x 19 x 11.5 in.
Blown at Egermann-Exbor S.P.,
Novy Bor, Czech Republic,
with help from Josef Rasocha.
Marvin Lipofsky working with the team led by master glassblower Stefen Stefko at the
International Glass Symposium IV, Crystalex Hantich Factory, Novy Bor, Czechoslovakia, 1991
‘Glass Ambitions’ International Glass Symposium V,
Series 1994 #2
Dimensions: 11 x 17 x 15 in.
Blown at Crystalex Hantich, Novy Bor, Czech Republic,
with help from Stefen Stefko.
Marvin Lipofsky working with glass master Wong Cheung Yun at
Dalian Factory, Shangdao, Dalian, China
China Group II 1999-2000 #12
Dimensions: 11.5 x 12.5 x 13 in.
Blown at Shangdao Factory, Dalian, China
with help from Wong Cheung Yun.
Kentucky Series 2000 #1
Dimensions: 10 x 20 x 15.5 in.
Blown at Centre College, Danville, Kentucky,
with help from Steve Powell, Brooke, Paul, Brent and
Marvin Lipofsky working with Petr Novotny at
International Glass Symposium 2000, Bild-Werk, Frauenau, Germany
Frauenau Group 2000-2002 #4
Dimensions: 14 x 20 x 18 in.
Blown at International Glass Symposium 2000, Bild-Werk,
with help from Petr Novotny.
L’viv Group 2001-2002 #2
Dimensions: 8.5 x 18.5 x 18 in.
Blown at L’viv Experimental Ceramico-Sculptural Factory,
with help from Ivan, Roman, and Taras.
Berkshires 2003-2004 #2
Dimensions: 11 x 13.5 x 16 in.
Blown at Fellerman-Raabe Studio, Sheffield,Massachusetts
with help from Stephen Powell and team.
Chico Group II 2004-2005 #5
Dimensions: 14 x 14.5 x 14 in.
Blown at Cal State University, Chico, California,
with help from Robert Herhusky and student team.
Marvin Lipofsky working as Artist in Residence
Assisted by Alex Stisser,
Benjamin Cobb and Darin Denison, at the
Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, 2007
SF • Tacoma Group 2006-2007 #5
Dimensions: 14.5 x 18 x 18 in.
Blown at Museum of Glass, Tacoma,
with help from Benjamin Cobb, Alex
Stisser and Darin Denison.
DATE OF BIRTH September 1, 1938, Barrington, Illinois
CURRENT RESIDENCE Berkeley, California
1962 BFA, Industrial Design, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois
1964 MS, Sculpture, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin
1964 MFA, Sculpture, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin
Museum of Arts and Design (American Craft Museum; Museum of Contemporary Crafts), New York, New York
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Oakland Museum of California (Oakland Art Museum), Oakland, California
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco Museum of Art), San Francisco, California
Musée d’Art Contemporain, Skopje, Yugoslavia
Monte Vista High School, Danville, California
Mills College, Oakland, California
The Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio
National Museum of Glass, Leerdam, Netherlands
Museum Boymans-Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Stedelijke Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Museum Bellerive, Zurich, Switzerland
United States State Department (U.S.I.S.)
Museum Für Kunsthandwek, Frankfurt, Germany
Musée du Design et d’Arts Appliqués/Contemporains (Musée des Arts Decoratifs) Lausanne, Switzerland
The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan
Umeleckoprumyslove Muzeum, Prague, Czech Republic
St. Louis Museum of Art, St. Louis, Missouri
International Glass Museum, Ebeltoft, Denmark
Auckland City Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
The Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, Michigan
Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Fonds National d’Art Contemporain) Paris, France
Hokkaido Government Prefectury, Sapporo, Japan
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania
International Glass Symposium Collection, Crystalex, Novy Bor, Czech Republic, 1982 II; 1985 III; 1988 IV;
1991 V; 1994 VI; 1997 VII; 2000 Crystalex, A.S./Lemberk Castle, Zsolnay Museum, Pecs, Hungary
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California
The National Museum, L’viv, Ukraine
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York
Smålands Museum-Swedish Glass Museum, Växjö, Sweden
The Alcorón City Museum of Glass Art, The Castle of San Jose de Valderas, Alcorón, Spain
Renwick Gallery of the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, New York, New York
Museum of Applied Arts, Belgrade, Serbia, Yugoslavia
Glass Art Collection, Mentzendorff House Museum, Riga, Latvia
The di Rosa Preserve, Napa, California
Museo del Vidrio, La Granja, Spain
Museo del Vidrio, Monterrey, N.L. Mexico
Skirball Cultural Center and Museum, Los Angeles, California
Musée du Québec, Québec City, Québec, Canada
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, Washington
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
Eretz Israel Museum, Glass Pavillion, Tel A’viv, Israel
Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Montreal, Québec, Canada
Museum Für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany
Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin, Germany
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra ACT, Australia
Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York
Dorothy and George Saxe Collection, M.H. de Young Museum, San Francisco, California
SELECTED AWARDS / HONORS
1974 National Endowment for the Arts, Fellowship
1976 National Endowment for the Arts, Fellowship
1978 Purchase Award, Corning Museum of Glass, Americans in Glass, Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art
Museum, Wausau, Wisconsin
1983 Honorific Prize, Viconiter ’83 1st International Exhibit of Contemporary Glass, Valencia, Spain
1985 “California Living Treasure,” Creative Arts League of Sacramento, Sacramento, California
1986 Honorary Life Member, Glass Art Society, Annual Conference, Los Angeles, California
1989 Distinguished Graduate Award for Outstanding Achievement in Art, Barrington High School,
1991 College of Fellows, The American Craft Council, New York, New York
1996 Honorary member, Hungarian Glass Art Society
1998 Trustee emeritus, American Crafts Council, New York, New York
1999 Honorary Board, James Renwick Alliance, Washington, D.C.
1999 International Arts Advisory Board, Friends of Bezalel, National Academy of Arts and Design,
1999 Honorary Member, Dominik Bimann Society, Harrachov, Czech Republic
2002 Honorary Award for Inspiration and Instigation of the Bay Area Glass Community, California Glass
Exchange, San Jose, California
2003 Master of the Medium Award, James Renwick Alliance, Washington, D.C.
2005 Lifetime Achievement in Art Made from Glass, Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass, SOFA Chicago,
2009 Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award, 39th Annual Glass Art Society Conference, Corning, New York
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