Fire and Form    


  Top: Entrance to Fire and Form at The Norton Museum of Art

Work by Lino Tagliapietra. Curated by William Warmus, 2003

Above: Nicolas Africano sculpture (detail) in Fire and Form



  Reviews of Fire and Form at the Norton Museum of Art

Curated by William Warmus         January to March 2003


"a radiant and slightly irreverent show "

The Miami Herald


"Warmus makes a case for glass' contributions to the larger art world"

 Palm Beach Daily News


"among the finest glass exhibitions I've seen"

The Boston Globe


"substantial and delightful"

The Wall Street Journal


"Much of the brilliant incandescence of this exhibition, in fact, can be attributed to the extraordinary lighting by DJ Palin, who used to be the lighting designer for Dale Chihuly"

South Florida Sun-Sentinel


"Tagliapietra's Samba do Brasil is one of the unmitigated joys of this show."

The Miami Herald


Review (excerpts) of the book Fire and Form: The Art of Contemporary Glass, by William  Warmus, University of Washington Press, 2003.


"Warmus has a way with words and a way with books. Each of the many books he has written, or has been involved in, is unique and eye-catching. This coffee-table book is no different. The photography is beautiful and the design, striking.

In his scholarly, yet fascinating introductory essay, Warmus traces the history of glass and the contemporary glass movement….His statement “I consider the founding event of contemporary glass to be the creation by Harvey K. Littleton, in 1942, of a small glass sculpture representing a nude female torso.” While most of us learned that the movement started with Littleton in 1962 at the Toledo Museum of Art workshop, Warmus takes Littleton’s influence back     another 20 years. Thought-provoking stuff!”

Glass Focus August-September 2003


Excerpts from:

Glass Touched by Genius

Real pretty -- but is it art? The answer is an unqualified 'yes.'


Originally published by New Times Broward-Palm Beach Mar 06, 2003 From


..... if I had any lingering doubts about the glass-as-art issue, they would be dispelled by "Fire and Form: The Art of Contemporary Glass," a glorious show now packing them in at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, and with good reason. Included are a hundred or so works by more than 30 artists from all over the world, and while there are disappointments here and there, overall the show is a stunner.

In fact, it's stunning right from the beginning. The entrance to the exhibition is a small, dimly lighted gallery that houses Ten (2002), an installation by Polish artist Anna Skibska. It consists of ten large, oblong components that look sort of like cocoons, five on either side of a roped-off passageway, suspended from the ceiling and dramatically illuminated. At first glance, these odd shapes resemble nothing so much as chicken wire, but they're really amazingly intricate networks of "lampworked" glass (fashioned with a small blowtorch), mazes of delicate filigree.


The standout in this gallery, though, is Italian Lino Tagliapietra's Drakkar (1998), a long, slender, opaque piece that simultaneously summons up the shape of South Florida's ubiquitous palm husks as well as that of a barge that might have borne Cleopatra. The ends culminate in what look to be the heads of a snake and a dragon. (Inexplicably, there's no photograph of this piece in the show's lavish catalog.) Tagliapietra's nearby Samba do Brasil (2000) couldn't be more different: a simple metal table displaying 11 colorful blown-glass vases, most of them tapering to a curving, elongated tip. Any one of them would be impressive on its own, but their cumulative charge is something else altogether.

And so it goes through the next few galleries: pieces that uneasily straddle that line between art and craft. The middle stretch of the show is dominated by whimsy that sometimes works and sometimes seems forced. The whimsy builds to an almost hallucinatory pitch with the stained-glass lightboxes of Judith Schaechter, who lays her concerns on the line with a quote posted on the wall: "I think I'm a fairly normal human specimen. My main interests are sex and death, with romance and violence the obvious runners-up."


The lightboxes, which use stained glass in wildly inventive ways, come right before the grand finale of "Fire and Form," and I suspect that guest curator William Warmus positioned them there intentionally. They're perfect for getting museumgoers to let down their guard, so that they're unprepared for what they'll find around that last corner.

The exhibition concludes with the glass-art equivalent of the end of a fireworks display: a grand, cavernous gallery filled with some of the show's most breathtaking pieces. The center of the space is dominated by an installation of seven large, colorful Chihuly pieces owned by the Norton -- the artist's trademark vessels with the undulating ridges, dubbed by Chihuly as macchias. They're perched on stands of various heights and so perfectly lighted that the light seems to emanate from within. And this is as good a place as any to point out that the lighting for the "Fire and Form" show as a whole is especially well-conceived and -executed.


A similar resonance is at work on the opposite side of the gallery, where several almost architectural pieces are juxtaposed to play off one another. Some are the result of a partnership between two Czechs, Stanislav Libensky (who died last year) and Jaroslava Brychtova. Their big slabs of dark, molded glass draw on roughly defined geometrical forms, and if you add, say, Daniel Clayman's tall, triangular obelisk Diverge (2002) to the mix, one whole side of the gallery is sort of like the pyramids of Giza rendered in glass.

If I had room, I would write in greater detail


Inevitably, however, I would omit something worth seeing. And so I have just one word for you: Go.






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Contents Copyright William Warmus 1996-2003