Contemporary Glass Melting Pot

by Dan Klein

From its earliest beginnings in the 1960s the contemporary glass movement was a kind of brotherhood with renown Dutch master Sybren Valkema as one of its founding 'brothers'. Already in 1964 Valkema had visited New York and seen Harvey Littleton's small furnace project. Valkema unreservedly bought into the new spirit of glass and by 1965 the earliest glass workshop in Europe in a university environment was up and running under his leadership at the newly opened Gerrit Rietveld Academy in the Fred Roeskestraat. The first student was Åsa Brandt who had graduated in ceramic design from the Konstfackskolan in Stockholm. She had come to Amsterdam to learn how to build the new small 'Labino' pot furnace that would enable artists to handle glass in a studio setting. "I came to the Rietveld Academy in the autumn of 1966 because I wanted to start my own glass studio. No-one in Sweden believed that this was possible. Glass was made by men in large factories full of engineers and technicians."

The full article is published in 'The Glass Age' published by: Vereniging van Vrienden van Modern Glas, where Dan Klein also writes about how the Bellamystraat in Amsterdam since the 1970s has been like a nerve centre of glass and how the 'Rietveld' message has travelled far and wide in the world, whether through ex-students and their work or ex-students who have in turn become teachers elsewhere in Europe, in Israel, in the United States and in Japan. And, how the idea of the Vrij Glas foundation developed after the 2002 Glass Art Society conference in Amsterdam and that the emphasis seems to be on design as much as pure artistry at Vrij Glas and as yet in the early days in its history.