Tiffany’s glass mosaics get their own show

The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) in Corning, New York, will present the first exhibition dedicated to the intricate glass mosaics made by Louis Comfort Tiffany‘s glassworks. Tiffany’s Glass Mosaics combines works in the CMoG collection with ones from The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass and pieces loaned from other institutions and private collections. Almost 50 mosaics made from the 1890s through the 1920s will be displayed, from small decorative objects to massive installations made of thousands of glass tiles.

The exhibition will reveal the process of creating a mosaic at Tiffany’s studios—through detailed watercolor studies and drawings to surviving glass sample panels and examples of completed work. Museum visitors will gain insight into the labor-intensive processes, including the selection of individual pieces of glass, which played a vital role in the overall aesthetic of the final product. Drawing on The Neustadt’s archive of Tiffany glass, objects on display will also include original examples of colored sheet glass, glass “jewels,” and glass fragments made for specific mosaics.[…]

“Although Louis C. Tiffany is best known for his pioneering leaded glass windows and lamps, his mosaics are the culmination of his experimentation and artistry in glass,” said Lindsy Parrott, director and curator at The Neustadt and co-curator of Tiffany’s Glass Mosaics. “Indeed, the mosaics represent an exciting synthesis of his work in both leaded and blown glass. Using a rich variety of materials, including multicolored opalescent glass and shimmering iridescent glass, accented with three-dimensional glass ‘jewels,’ Tiffany’s innovations in glass established a bold new aesthetic for mosaics and contributed a uniquely American character to the centuries-old art form.”

The exhibition will also explore how Louis Comfort Tiffany used his showroom to market his portfolio to wealthy clients, driving up perceived value by letting buyers get a peek behind the curtain at how the wizards in Tiffany’s workshop made every piece by hand.

“Tiffany’s successful combination of art and business coincided with the rapid development of consumer culture in the United States,” said Kelly Conway, curator of American glass at CMoG and co-curator of Tiffany’s Glass Mosaics. “His impressive New York City showroom and clever, gorgeous displays of the company’s mosaics at world’s fairs, coupled with strategic marketing, sparked consumer interest and drove demand for high-priced luxury objects for the home.”

That was just the beginning of the Tiffany mosaic business, however. As the mosaic workshop became increasingly well-established at the end of the 19th century, religious and educational institutions commissioned Tiffany mosaics on a grand scale. While individual mosaics, mostly portable, have been on display before, this exhibition is the first to display the full breadth of Tiffany’s mosaic oeuvre. The museum has created custom digital displays that will allow visitors to explore the minute details of large-scale architectural mosaics in churches, libraries and universities that cannot be moved for exhibition. Mosaics at 12 different locations in New York State, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Chicago have been photographed in high resolution by the CMoG team for the virtual displays.

Here is a magnificent example of that photography. It’s a mural in the Curtis Publishing Company Building in Philadelphia, a huge wonderland of glass tiles that looks completely different from a distance than it does up close, like one of those magic eye posters.

EDIT: Extremely relevant information I left out for some unknown reason is that the exhibition runs from May 20th, 2017, through January 7th, 2018.

17 thoughts on “Tiffany’s glass mosaics get their own show

  1. Hey, BLOG BABY — Can you sneak back into the composition and list the date of the show’s opening / closing and the hours. (Bet I’m not the only one wondering…) This is going to be a fantastic presentation. Thank you mucho for share’n the news with us!

    1. Oh they’re real alright. Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky used a three-color additive system that shot each of three black-and-white photographs through a red, green or blue filter then ran each photo through filters of the same color and superimposed the images. His incredible results made him well-known throughout Europe, so much so that the Lumière Brothers sought him out to give him a sneak preview of their new Autochrome color photography system in 1906. Tsar Nicholas II gave Prokudin-Gorsky a railroad-car darkroom and no-questions-asked permits to travel everywhere in the Russian Empire and take pictures of what he saw. The trips last from 1909 to 1915, so without realizing it he captured the last gasp of the empire.

  2. The Dream Garden was designed by Maxfield Parrish. His relationship with LC Tiffany is a story in itself. As an aside, it almost ended up in Vegas 😎 but an emergency fund raising saved it from that dreadful fate. Happy New Year!

  3. The opening and closing dates are in the first link, though I am surprised it wasn’t mentioned in the post as well: May 20, 2017, through January 7, 2018. The museum’s hours vary by time of year: 9-8 in the summer, otherwise 9-5.

    I drove near there many times in past years without stopping, although I always meant to do so. Maybe I’ll suggest a road trip to see this exhibition.

    All the best to everyone in 2017!

    1. Because she didn’t work in the mosaic workshop, although many other women did. It took almost a century for art historians to recognize Clara Driscoll’s brilliant innovations in the leaded lamps that Tiffany is so famous for today, so who knows, perhaps someone will discover her equivalent in the mosaic department soon. Right now, though, the only known names are the male shop directors.

  4. Thanks for the link,Emily. I did not know about Clara and the other women, and might never have known if not for your post.

  5. Thanks for bringing back a fond memory of Philadelphia, my hometown. The Dream Garden is a work that needs to be seen in person. It glows. And thanks for writing this blog. I look forward to reading it every day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.