Littleton, Harvey K.
5 5/8 x 13 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches
Wichita Art Museum, Museum purchase, Friends of the Wichita Art Museum, Vedere Ball Fund
Not Currently on Display
About the Artwork
An undulant sculptural parabola of brilliant rainbow-hued glass is the signature composition of Harvey K. Littleton, patriarch of the studio glass movement in America. In the matter of mastering glass, Littleton was to the manor and the manner born. He grew up in Corning, New York where his father directed the research and development of the nation’s premier center of specialty glass manufacture and study, Corning Glass Works. Littleton pursued formal academic training in sculpture, industrial design, and ceramics. He also traveled to Europe to acquaint himself with craft traditions and techniques used at centuries-old glass centers. From the 1960s forward Littleton’s work as artist, researcher, teacher, writer, and public spokesman for the appreciation of studio craft design launched an international movement in the making of purely aesthetic, often monumental art works in glass.
Coming in 1980 the creation of 45є Rotation denotes a moment of seminal transformation in Littleton’s glass conceptions. Since 1979 he had been folding glass over in thick overlays of clear crystal, transparent colored glass, and opaque colored glass layers, all gathered about a colored rod. Manipulating these gathers of glass Littleton cut them into geometric forms, the cut edges functioning as a revelation of concentrically expanding “organs” within the hard, finite “body” of solid glass. In 1980 Littleton began to think almost like a choreographer, experimenting in glass with ideas of motion, gesture, posture, and rhythms; he exploited the strength and malleability of his medium, stretching the layered glass like taffy, shaping it into fluid organic, and utterly glamorous sculptural columns that seemed to capture the very act of turning, distilling a momentary gesture for contemplation in solid form.
45є Rotation was one of the most elegant gifts to the Wichita Art Museum that the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum made possible through the annual fund-raiser of a grand gala with a special celebrity guest called the Vedere Ball. The latter events and the project they were to benefit, a Hands-On Gallery, occurred in the decade of the 1980s, contributing significantly to museum esprit and to the collection. The museum education department designed the Hands-On Gallery (1980-1990) in collaboration with visually-impaired patrons, to provide visitors, especially those with disabilities, and children with an opportunity for expanded instruction about art media and techniques.