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BA Hons decorative Arts
Marvin Lipofsky, one of the great pioneers of the international studio glass movement, has died. A controversial and often cantankerous figure, he was totally dedicated to promoting glass as a sculptural medium and to recording and documenting its development over the past 50 years.
Marvin stirred passions. One either loved or hated the man, or both. His caustic tongue and acerbic wit drew extreme reactions and yet on occasion when he chose, he could be an utterly charming and persuasive crusader in his single-minded commitment to the glass art cause.
As one of Harvey Littleton’s first group of students, he, along with the likes of Sam Herman, Fritz Dreisbach and Dale Chihuly, left the University of Wisconsin in the mid 60’s, a time of great ferment and excitement in the crafts, to spread the word. Glass had arrived, and anyone (with the vision and will) could now use this previously inaccessible material. Marvin soon established an excellent studio at the University of California, Berkley, the second in the country which was where I first met him, while teaching ceramics at the nearby Davis campus.
His teaching philosophy seemed to be based on harsh critique, and the dictum that if a student ‘couldn’t stand the heat, he or she should get out of the hot-shop’. Nevertheless, there are many who adored him, and who will for ever be grateful for his tuition and mentorship. Despite his irascibility, Marvin had a huge impact of glass art.
His own glass practice took him to many countries. He tended to work in factories, enrolling teams to help him produce large flamboyant forms blown into impromptu wooden moulds, where Neptune-like, he stabbed and prodded the hot glass with trident shaped spears. He attempted to give each group of pieces a local flavour by altering colourways, scale and shape. These ‘blanks’ were then shipped to California, where they were completed by extensive cold working and finishing (cutting, grinding, polishing and sandblasting.)
Marvin never failed to attend international symposia or major exhibitions such as SOFA, where he was always well represented. His work is to be found in all the most important public and private collections and his archive charting the development of studio glass is second to none and priceless. There is no doubt whatsoever that he has been a highly significant influence in the development of contemporary glass art and has made an immense contribution to its evolution.
The Circle was founded in Cambridge, UK in 1981 with a handful of like minded enthusiasts. Originally named "The Cambridge Paperweight Circle", a new name was agreed in 2003, to be fully effective from Jan 2004. The renaming reflected a continued growth to world-wide membership and a change in focus arising from the addition of Regional Meetings within the UK.
Bob Hall, 81 Milby Drive, Nuneaton, CV11 6JR, tel: 02476 386172.
Plymouth College of Art have invested 7.5 million in new studios and facilities across the Contemporary Crafts area to support the tradition and future of glass making.