Contemporary Kiln-Formed Glass: A World Survey
By Keith Cummings
($55, University of Pennsylvania Press)
Following up on his 1997 book, Techniques of Kiln-Formed Glass, British artist and professor Keith Cummings sets out to go beyond technical matters and survey the full range of artwork being produced in glass from the kiln. Looking at everything from enameling to full-on casting, this volume keeps the finished artwork front and center. But, unlike the typical coffee-table tome, Cummings’ book includes plenty of information about process and technique, fitting for the man who led the glass department at Wolverhampton University in the U.K. for four decades.
In his introduction to this 208-page book, Cummings writes, “I have chosen to illustrate and describe much of the best of current practice through the works of a number of artists, selected for their quality and creative individuality.” The selection of artists included in the book betrays the European perspective of its author, which sets it apart from many of the books on glass sculpture emanating from the U.S. While Americans Sean Albert, Dan Dailey, and Steven Weinberg are included; they are outnumbered by Brits such as Max Jacquard, David Reekie, or Louise Watson; as well as other Europeans such as Ann Wolff, Peter Bremers, or Antoine Leperlier.
Paging through the book’s many color plates, there is plenty for an American reader to discover in the work of Daniela Turrin, for example, who uses kiln-cast glass of varying thickness and textures to create abstract shapes on colored glass panels. Other surprises are the pate de verre dresses of Karen Akester which fool the eye with their highly detailed and opaque reproductions of textiles.
While the book strives to be an art book, it suffers a bit by the author’s well-intentioned effort to include as many strong works as possible, as well as technical illustrations. In the end, the layout and presentation of artworks suffers. But for the reader willing to put up with some visual challenges, Contemporary Kiln-Formed Glass rewards with a highly knowledgeable guided tour through the most significant works being done in the medium.
To order this book, visit the publisher’s website here.