William Warmus and Tim Tate: Founders of 21st Century Glass – Conversations and Images/ Glass Secessionism Facebook Group
Glass Secessionism does not mark the death of Studio Glass. It makes it stronger…In many ways, Glass Secessionism is putting glass back on the path it should have followed. It encourages those areas of glass that had progressed over time and builds heavily upon them. It reveres those artists who advance the medium, taking chances with new directions. In other words, we are not destroying the past, we are constructing a future.
An exchange on a tour bus between artist and art historian inspired the formation of 21st Century Glass – Conversations and Images/ Glass Secessionism. This Facebook group, founded and moderated by Tim Tate and William Warmus, underscores and celebrates glass sculptural art in the 21st century and illustrates the differences and strengths compared to late 20th-century, technique-driven glass.
Warmus is a Fellow and former curator at The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG). The son of a glassblower at Corning Incorporated, he studied with art critic Harold Rosenberg and philosopher Paul Ricoeur while at the University of Chicago. As curator of modern glass at CMoG in 1978, Warmus curated three landmark exhibitions: New Glass, which was also shown at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and at the Louvre; Tiffany’s Tiffany, which focused on the masterpieces Tiffany had in his home and studios; and the first major exhibition in North America of Emile Gallé’s work. He is the founding editor of New Glass Review and has served as editor of Glass Quarterly Magazine, faculty member and visiting artist at the Pilchuck School of Glass, executive secretary of the Glass Art Society, and board member at UrbanGlass. The recipient of the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass award for outstanding contributions to contemporary glass, Warmus lives near Ithaca, New York.
A Washington, D.C. native, Tate has been working with sculpture now for 30 years. Co-founder of the Washington Glass School, his artwork is part of the permanent collections of a number of museums, including the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum and the Mint Museum. He participated in 2019’s Glasstress show with Ai Wei Wei and Vic Muniz during the Venice Biennale. Tate has received numerous awards and honors including the 2010 Virginia Groot Foundation award for sculpture; a Fulbright Award from Sunderland University, England, in 2012; second place in the 2017 London Contemporary Art Prize; and the 2018 James Renwick Alliance Distinguished Artist Award. His involvement at Penland School of Craft includes teaching, serving as featured artist for the 2018 annual auction, and acting as the Development Chair for the Penland Board of Trustees from 2014 to 2018.
Modeled after Alfred Stieglitz and the redefinition of photography by Photo Secessionists, Glass Secessionism is similar in that both mediums were born of science and industry, and both had similar paths of evolution as a result. Photography and glass art emerged from the lab or factory with inherent technical barriers, and genius was required to make something from the materials. Thus, early pioneers had a vested interest in keeping secrets and making adaptation by other artists difficult.
“We respect good technique, and understand its importance in creating great art from glass. However, we believe that great art should be driven primarily by artistic vision, and technique should facilitate the vision. For too long, technique has driven the majority of Studio Glass. As Secessionists we do not seek to isolate ourselves from other artists working in glass, but to enhance the field as a whole,” says Warmus.
Another motivation for Glass Secessionism, fine art galleries were not showing enough 21 century glass, and glass galleries were not showing emerging glass sculptors. Tate and Warmus believe, “Only by seceding would we succeed.” A primary drive of their Facebook group is to attract and support younger artists working with glass.
In this conversation, Tate and Warmus discuss their Facebook group, how Studio Glass will move forward in the 21stcentury, and how glass artists and galleries can survive the effects of the current Covid 19 global pandemic.