Both through his own works and his activities in education, Richard Meitner has had a profoundly positive and highly visible impact on art in glass internationally. His works have been shown around the world and have been included in almost every major international museum exhibition of art in glass for the last 25 years. In spite of his considerable reknown, Meitner’s work has never been mainstream. His place is always on the outer edge of what is happening, searching, challenging, discovering, taking risks, as if he were a child at play. It is this desire to discover and speak as a child does, to learn and rejoice in that learning, but also the willingness to be caught off guard, and amazed or puzzled by experience, which has always been at the heart of his activities.
Anna Venini wrote: “The best way to express what I like most about Richard and his work is perhaps this: he lives in an extraordinary world, one that is not simply the pleasing world of fairy tales but is at the same time a breeding ground for some serious (albeit elusive) philosophical thought and research. It is from this place that he creates. It is my feeling that he has not only already accomplished great things, but has, in addition, a long career in front of him as an important artist. I come from a family of glass makers. I love Richard’s work most certainly not only for that reason, but also because Richard is able to approach that material and to use it with culture, with great fantasy and originality, with authority and great thoughtfulness. That combination is, in my experience, highly unusual.”
An artist with decades of experience and practice in art and art education, Meitner has lived in Amsterdam since 1972. He has lectured and conducted workshops in the U.S.A., Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Malta, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Italy and Japan. He has been invited artist-in-residence in many countries and has worked as a designer for the glass industry in Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Additionally, Meitner has served on the Dutch National Commission for Endowments for the Arts and the Dutch National Advisory Board for the Arts. Together with Mieke Groot, he was responsible from 1981 to 2000 for the glass department of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. In 2006, he was appointed to the faculty for Science and Technology of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa (New University of Lisbon), Portugal. Meitner’s major exhibitions include a retrospective at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs of the Louvre in Paris, and solo shows at the National Museum for the History of Science and Medicine in Leiden, Netherlands, the National Glass Museum in Sunderland, England, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and the Corning Museum of Glass in the U.S.A. His work is included in the permanent collections of more than 60 museums in 16 countries. In 2020, the artist received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Glass Art Society.
In 2016, Meitner earned a PhD in sculpture from the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Lisbon, Portugal. His doctoral thesis made the case that in education and public policy for art, the way we define, make policy for and teach art is in many respects incorrect and ineffective. He formulates his arguments citing science and many other sources that strongly suggest that we need urgently to discuss, rethink and come to much more accurate and useful understandings of what making and appreciating art are really about.
In 2023, Meitner will begin work for his upcoming solo show at Galeria Caterina Tognon in Venice during the Biennale and continue to build a working collaboration with his partner, Nataliya Vladychko, a talented Ukrainian artist. He will also carry on his work with the Vicarte Research Unit at Universidade Nova in Lisbon, i.e. working with young student artists in the Master’s degree program for the Art and Science of Glass and Ceramics.
Saya Meitner: “Helping young talented artists as a teacher is something I’ve done for many decades, and has become quite an important aspect of both my career and my life.”