Martin Blank’s early figurative work swiftly solidified his place as a premier figurative sculptor working in glass. The artist expanded his contributions to the contemporary glass scene in 2001 when he introduced his sensual and fluid abstract landscapes. An innovator with an intense drive to create and to push his material, Blank’s influences include glass masters Pino Signoretto and William Morris and artforms as diverse as origami and opera.
Blank states: “My work explores what I call visual mirroring. It deals with abstract forms and their spatial relationships. Mirroring is the way two juxtaposed objects relate to one another. There is a dialogue that is created between these forms. A tenuous and tactile presence is created. It is the resonating voice. Each shape relates to its adjacent partner. In this intimate stage, each element has the ability to affect and echo the other. There is a moment when these objects reach their peak visual potency. This is the essence of what is revealed while I create.”
Blank emerged as one of North America’s premiere figurative sculptors with a style quintessentially his own, admiring the grace and flow of the human form since childhood. In 1984, the artist earned his BFA from Rhode Island School of Design. That same year, he moved west to begin his professional career in Seattle, working at the center for studio glass and learning from the driving force behind it – Dale Chihuly. Blank brought his infectious enthusiasm and courageous desire to push the material to Chihuly’s team, all the while establishing his own contributions to the glass movement.
From his Lotus series to Deconstructed Blue and Adorn series, Blank’s sculpture can be found in international locations including the Millennium Museum in Beijing, China, the Shanghai Museum of Fine Art, Shanghai, China, and the American Embassy in Slovakia. The artist was among a group of America’s most renowned glass artists invited to make presentations to create public art for the World Trade Center park in New York City. His work is included in private collections and museums around the world to include the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, Stanford, California; and the Cleveland Museum of Fine Art.
In 2001, Blank created the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation “Access to Learning” Award for recipients in Finland, Argentina and Guatemala. His own honors include: the Award of Excellence for the International Glass Invitational, Habatat Gallery, Royal Oak, Michigan, 2006, 2010, 2013 and 2016; Artists Grants, Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington, 1986 and 1990; and artist residencies at Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, 2003, 2007. His public abstract landscapes include: Current at Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington; Repose in Amber at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Indiana; Fluent Steps at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington; and Steam Portrait at 99 Church Street, New York, New York. These public sculptures reveal nature’s inherent structure and celebrate the complementary relationship of natural and figurative objects in space.
Blank recently completed a new installation at Imagine Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida, titled If a River Could Tell a Story, an installation and ecosystem of light, reflection, form and motion, on view through 2022. The artist was commissioned to collaborate on a work of art for Imagine Museum with founder, Trish Duggan. The fluidity of motion contained in the work invites one on the journey of the river of self-discovery. Every year, Imagine Museum selects its Artist of the Year, a contemporary artist whose art fosters the appreciation of the artistic and expressive nature of glass. For 2022, Blank was chosen, as he is one of the premier figurative sculptors across the globe whose work distinctively expresses motion, sensuality, and the powerful resonance of human landscapes.
Since the 1990s, as an independent artist in Seattle, Blank has produced art and commissions for contemporary collectors, museums and gallery exhibitions. Whether it is a collection of flower blossoms, a monumental abstract installation, or a figurative sculpture, his hot sculpted glass is made with a combination of technical exactitude and creative exuberance. His working relationship with glass is an intimate one, as he wears heat protective clothing, gets very close, and employs his entire body while molding the molten material. Intuitive and deliberate, he is nonetheless open to enhancing his visual vocabulary with the happy accidents of glasswork.
Blank states: “It always intrigues me when the forms reveal a negative space that is as vital and potent as the actual objects. Great sculpture is like music, all you have to do is feel it.”