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Sam Herman is a glass artist, painter and sculptor.
A true modernist, Sam stands at the very centre of the development of the Studio Glass Movement. He was not only present for the birth of the Movement, but he is its founding father in Great Britain and Australia. His influence is seminal - he inspired a generation of glass artists, developed revolutionary techniques and following his lead, colours in blown glass would become more textured and fluid.
Sam has exhibited extensively throughout the world and his work is held in numerous public and private collections including, amongst many others, the Victoria & Albert Museum, Metropolitan Museum, Smithsonian, Art Institute of Chicago, Fitzwilliam Museum and the National Gallery of Victoria.
The Studio Glass Movement and Sam
The Studio Glass Movement revolutionised the understanding of glass as an art form. Up until the 1960s glass 'art' was based on the 'design and make' principle. A glass 'artist' would produce a 'design' and then hand it on to a craftsman glassblower who would 'make' the final work in an industrial sized furnace. This separation between designer and maker meant that there was little or no room for creative expression.
In 1962, in Wisconsin, Professor Harvey Littleton and Dominic Labino set out to break with this traditional model. They built a small tank-furnace, experimented with glass that would melt at lower temperatures and began developing new tools that would make it possible for the artist to have direct access to the material, ultimately allowing designer and maker to become one. Henceforth, the Studio Glass Movement was born.
That very same year, Sam enrolled at the University of Wisconsin. Initially, Sam's Major was in sculpture with a Minor in ceramics, but during enrolment he met some students who were there to enrol on Harvey Littleton's new glass course. This exciting new programme immediately caught Sam's attention and he managed to persuade Littleton to take him on it. His fellow students included Marvin Lipofsky, Michael Boylen, Rodger Lang, Bill Boysen and Pat Esch and together they became the earliest adopters and developers of the Movement.
In 1965, Sam gained a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the Edinburgh College of Art. Whilst there he visited the glass and ceramics departments at Stourbridge and the Royal College of Art. That same year he organised an exhibition of the work of his Wisconsin alumni to travel around the UK to show these colleges the revolutionary developments taking place back in the US. Sam quickly caught the eye of the Marquess of Queensberry, the then head of the Ceramics and Glass Department at the RCA. Queensbury saw the incredible potential of Studio Glass and invited Sam to become a Research Fellow at the RCA. Sam accepted the position and in 1966 built a small tank furnace at the RCA, the first of its type in the UK. Sam remained at the RCA until 1974 as the Tutor in Charge of the Glass and Ceramics Department.
In 1969, Sam set up the celebrated Glasshouse in Covent Garden. Sam conceived it as "a workshop that would act as a halfway house between college and the real world, supporting artists in creating a life in glass away from industry". For the next thirty years the Glass House became a centre point for UK studio glass. In the words of the art historian Dan Klein "what is remarkable is that almost all who worked at the Glasshouse have in one way or another made a significant contribution to the world of glass, and each one in a very personal way".
In 1971, The Victoria and Albert Museum held a highly acclaimed exhibition of Sam's work, confirming Sam's position as an innovator within his field and a master of his craft. At around the same time Sam agreed to produce a line of production work for the celebrated Belgian glass manufacturer Val St Lambert. Unsurprisingly Sam quickly caught the eye of the commercial galleries and went on to have numerous shows in London, with amongst others, the Fine Art Society, as well as all across Europe.
In 1974, Sam was invited by the South Australian Government to set up the glass workshop at the Jam Factory in Adelaide, thereby bringing the Studio Glass Movement to their shores. Sam eventually returned to the UK in 1979 to set up a studio in Lots Road, London. In 1983 Sam became an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Art.
In 1984, Sam moved to the west coast of Mallorca, creating a home and studio in the Tramuntana Mountains high up above the Mediterranean Sea. Inspired by the awesome landscape and the atmosphere of this new territory, Sam took the radical decision to re-focus his talents on painting and sculpture, the path he had initially set out on before his meeting with Littleton. Since moving his studio to Mallorca, Sam has only occasionally been persuaded to return to the furnace. One such occasion was in 2012, when Sam agreed to mark the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Studio Glass Movement by producing a limited edition of works at Peter Layton's London Glassblowing and then at Colin Hawkins' studio in Cirencester.
Sam's primitive painting style and sculpture work have been a revelation to his audience. Much of it is evidently influenced by his unique understanding of the nature of glass and colour, it consequently delights in adding a new dimension to his oeuvre.
Exhibitions - Selected List
The Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England
Primavera, London, England
Museum of Glass & Jewellery, Jablonec, Czechoslovakia
Pilkington Museum, St. Helens, England
Museum Boymans von Beuningen, Rotterdam, Holland
Groninger Museussm voor Stat en Lande, Groningen, Holland
Gemeente Museum, Arnhem, Holland
Seibu, Tokyo, Japan
Galerie L'Ecuyer, Brussels, Belgium
Rohsska Konstaslojdmuseet, Goteborg, Sweden
Oxford Gallery, Oxford, England
Pilkington Museum, St. Helens, England
The Fine Art Society, London, Glasgow & Edinburgh
The Jam Factory, Adelaide, Australia
Bonython Gallery, Sydney, Australia
Narek Gallery, Canberra, Australia
Festival Centre Gallery, Adelaide, Australia
Collectors Gallery, Perth, Australia
Greenhill Gallery, Adelaide, Australia
Skandinaviske Mobler, Frankfurt, Germany
Silverbergs, Malmo, Sweden
Aberdeen Art Gallery, Aberdeen, Scotland
Galerie Veltheim, Veltheim, Germany
Galerie Thiel, Luxembourg
Galerie Monica Trujen, Bremen, Germany
Galerie D M Sarver, Paris, France
Galerie Mendendiek, Dusseldorf, Germany
Studio '40, The Hague, Holland
Westminster Gallery, Boston, USA
Glas-Galerie, Lucerne, Switzerland
The Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford, England
Glass Gallery, Toronto, Canada
Galerie en Gross St Martin, Cologne, Germany
Societe General Galerie, Hong Kong
Galerie Metiers Mormiron, Biot, France
Galerie Nanky de Vreeze, Amsterdam, Holland
National Museum of Wales
La Galerie, Frankfurt, Germany
Coleridge, London, England
Kunstsanmlungen der Veste, Coburg, Germany
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England
Generale de Banque, Liege, Belgium
Terranga Gallery, Austria
Tom Caldwell Gallleries, Dublin and Belfast
Transparence Gallery, Brussels
Boundary Gallery London
Pump House Gallery, London
Gallery 27, London
Zest Gallery, London
Fresh Air, Gloucestershire
Works held in the following public collections:
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England
Smithsonian Institute, Washington, USA
Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York, USA
Metropolitan Museum, New York, USA
Art Institute of Chicago, USA
National Gallery of Victoria, Australia
Art Gallery of South Australia
Art Gallery of Western Australia
J & L Lobmeyer, Vienna, Austria
Palais Stoclet, Brussels, Belgium
Royal Family of Belgium
Museum of Glass and Jewellery, Jablonec, Czechoslovakia
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England
Glassmuseum Dusseldorf, Germany
Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, Portugal
Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh, Scotland
Glasgow Museum and Art Gallery, Scotland
Rohsska Konstlogjumseet, Goteborg, Sweden
Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery, Tasmania
University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA
Aberdeen Museum and Art Gallery, Scotland
Badisches Landesmuseum, Karlsruhe, Germany
Broadfield House Glass Museum Englan
Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford, England