Frederick C. Carder and Steuben Art Glass

Text by Madison P. Whyde, Gallery Attendant at the Forsyth Galleries

The Forsyth Galleries at Texas A&M University’s Memorial Student Center features an eloquent and extensive collection of English Cameo Glass. Last month’s article goes into detail about one of our cameo glass pieces and how it was created. However, our galleries also feature a beautiful collection of Steuben Glass, whose history you may be less aware of.Black and White Steuben Vase

Frederick C. Carder was born in Staffordshire, England where he grew up loving the arts. He quit his schooling at a young age and started developing his glass-making skills at various local firms until a few of his designs became commercially popular. In 1903, on a business trip to the United States, Carder met Thomas Hawkes who was familiar with his success. As the president of Corning Glass Works, Hawkes offered to establish and provide funds for a company to be run by Carder in Corning, New York, and soon after Steuben Glass Works emerged as an American art glass company.

Throughout his career with Steuben Glass Works, Frederick C. Carder created more than 8,000 designs, of which one of his more famous types is known as Aurene. To create his patented Aurene glass, Carder would spray clear, malleable glass with a metallic chloride and then heat it in a specific manner; the glass surface would crack into millions of tiny lines causing the light to reflect off it in an unprecedented, exquisite manner.

He was also known for his incorporation of different art styles into his pieces. For the vase pictured here, Carder managed to create almost perfectly clear glass and embellish it with a striking black floral intarsia design. Intarsia refers to an art technique that developed during the Italian Renaissance of decorating a surface with recurring patterns. This vase truly highlights Carder’s masterful ability to manipulate the raw material by combining both the technology of glass making and the expertise of design. In addition to the vase’s asymmetrical nature and improbable rippling rim, its stunning colors and uniqueness highlight the power and expressivity of simplicity.

However, with the onset of World War I, America underwent many raw material shortages, which eventually lead to a decline in Steuben glass popularity.  His company was bought by Corning Glass works, and under new management the Steuben division produced new pieces of art that were instead formed with different, revolutionary techniques. Most notably, a manufacturing process known as 10-M was developed by Corning in an effort to create glass that would transmit, instead of absorb, ultraviolet light; the iron impurities that are found in glass are removed which achieves an extremely high refractive quality that permits the entire spectrum of light and ultraviolet light to pass through. This purifying procedure creates a pure, beautiful finished product unique to the Steuben standard of glass making. Frederick Carder retired in 1932, although the production of his style of glass continued. To exemplify the prestige of his glass, it’s interesting to note that famous persons and dignitaries were awarded Steuben Glass pieces, and in 1951, a piece was even presented to Princess Elizabeth during the opening of England’s “Exhibit of Exhibits.”

Although Steuben glass officially ceased its manufacturing in 2012, it stands as an American symbol of our ability to produce world-class art glass. Carder’s art is rare, and his incredible formulas for glass transformation into extraordinary works of art continue to be recognized in the field. To see more works designed by Carder for Steuben, be sure to visit the Forsyth Galleries and our current “Forsyth Favorites” exhibit that features several of his extraordinary works!


Fluid Viscosity and Paper Marbling

Text by Gregory Phillipy, Curator of Education

What is viscosity?

Viscosity is the measurement of the rate at which liquids move.  Think of the thickness a fluid has:  Water is thin and syrup is thicker, so therefore syrup has a higher viscosity than water.  Some liquids can move very fast (water and milk) having a low viscosity and others are slower (dish soap and honey) having a high viscosity. 

Paper marbling is the art of creating colorful patterns by applying high-viscosity liquid over low-viscosity liquid.   Taking advantage of the adage that, “oil and water do not mix,” this art form is based on controlling the flowing qualities of fluid movement.

Since the late 19th century, a boiled extract of the carrageenan-rich algae known as Irish moss (Chondrus crispus), has been employed to create the mucilaginous and highly viscous solution upon which the colored dyes and paints are applied. Today, many artists use carrageenan extracted from seaweed.   In recent years, a synthetic size made from methylcellulose, a common ingredient in instant wallpaper paste, is often used as a medium upon which to float acrylic and oil paints.  Some artists use ordinary shaving cream as a viscous medium.  The point is that these media will support a layer of higher viscosity liquid upon which to float colors for a design.

Colors made from pigments are mixed with a surfactant such as ox gall. Sometimes, oil or turpentine may be added to a color to achieve special effects.

The special tools of the trade are brushes, a deep tray, pigments, cattle gall and tragacanth.  It is believed to be invented in the thirteenth century Turkistan.  This decorative art then spread to China, India and Persia and Anatolia.  Turkish Ottoman calligraphers and artists used marbling to decorate books, imperial decrees, official correspondence and documents.  New forms and techniques were perfected in the process and Turkey remained the center of marbling for many centuries

This summer in July, Turkish artist Baki Cavlazolgu will teach at Children’s Art Camp at the TAMU University Art Galleries. 

TAMU Art Galleries Summer Art Camp 2013

For Children Ages 7 – 12

Cost: $50.00 per child – Registration limited to 20 students

Wednesday, July 24 – Friday July 26  1:00 – 4:00

Wednesday at the Stark Galleries

1:00 – 1:30 Registration/ check in: rules and introduction to the Art Galleries

1:30 – 2:30 Stained Glass/ Glassmaking Workshop:  Featuring Runyon Collections from the Forsyth Galleries. Campers learn about how stained glass is made and also about artistry as they create patterns for their own beautiful mosaic stained glass image! No glass cutting or soldering required.

2:30 – 3:00 snack time and games*

3:00 – 4:00 Frederick Remington and Western Storytelling Art

Thursday at the Stark Galleries

1:00 – 2:15 Turkish Delight and the Art of Paper Marbling:  with Turkish Artist Baki Cavlazoglu learn the art of true paper marbling history and technique to make your own colorful designs from the traditions of Turkey.

2:15 – 2:45 snack time and games*

2:45 – 4:00 Tai Chi Fan:  Learn this ancient Chinese martial art celebrated as a healthy activity and as a visual performance art form using a traditional Chinese fan.  Taught by Dr. Suzanne Droleskey and sponsored by the Confucius Institute. 

Friday at the Stark Galleries

1:00 – 2:15 Fun Photography:  with Gustavo Castillo: Campers will enjoy making photo techniques using wet plate and cyanotype styles of photography which do not require a camera.  We will also play games based on photography themes. 

2:15 – 2:45 snack time and games*

2:45 – 4:00 Mask Making: Become anyone (or anything) you want to be.  Make a mask that reflects your inner self.   Campers will explore the history and uses of mask from around the world.  We will use colored papers, tape, pipe cleaners and other materials to make our own masks.

*(Children bring snacks from home) Water and lemonade supplied by camp.  All art materials supplied at camp.

Payment:  Cash or check made out to University Art Galleries

Contact: Trudy Six

University Art Galleries, Texas A&M University


Art News – 2 November 2012

Art News – 2 November 2012

The man accused of vandalizing Picasso’s Woman in a Red Armchair (1929) recently had his first show at the Cueto James Art Gallery in Houston, Texas.  The show for Uriel Landeros was organized by gallery owner James Perez.   The exhibition, titled “Houston, We Have a Problem,” opened on Friday, 26 October 2012.  The opening gala doubled as a Halloween party with free liquor, DJs and music, patrons in Halloween costumes, and Landeros joining the gala via Skype.  It is interesting to note that many of Landeros’ paintings in the exhibition were “tagged” by local graffiti artists in much the same way that he is accused of tagging the Menil Collection’s Woman in a Red Armchair.

Picasso’s Woman in a Red Armchair (1929) after being vandalized with spray paint. Image courtesy Houston Culture Map.

Landeros remains at large until he turns himself over to the police for questioning.  He is believed to be hiding in northern Mexico.  He reports as belonging to the Occupy Movement and this association as reason for his “fight.”  Landeros has reportedly admitted to vandalizing the Picasso painting and said, “I’m not going to give up on my cause.  It doesn’t matter if I turn myself in or not.  It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop fighting.”

Owner of Cuerto James Art Gallery in Houston, TX, James Perez stands in front of Uriel Landeros’ first solo exhibition. Image by Melissa Phillip (AP/Houston Chronicle).

Despite the efforts to destroy Woman in a Red Armchair, the painting was immediately cleaned of the spray paint used to create the image of a bull with the word “conquista.”  The Menil Collection of Houston reports that the painting is set to go on display again in the near future.

The Artist Ego by Uriel Landeros, 2012, tagged with “Picasso” by an unknown person. Image courtesy Houston Culture Map.

For more information, click the links below.

1) NY Times article “Picasso vandal gets his own art show

2) Bigstory AP article “Gallery show for accused Picasso vandal raises ire

3) Houston Culture Map article “Menil Picasso vandal’s own paintings are spray painted as his art show debut turns into a side show

4) Houston Culture Map article “The Menil Picasso vandal answers questions, argues that museums steal from the people

5) article “Vandalized Picasso ready to hang again

Art News – 24 October 2012

Here is a wonderful, feel-good piece of art news to remember amongst all of the stories of vandalism and theft that have been recently plaguing the art world.  Our thanks to Mister John Feathers for amassing this amazing collection and his family for donating it to the Los Angeles Public Library so that the world can enjoy and learn from it.

A rare 1944 street map of Los Angeles County, collected by John Feathers

John Feathers spent his life collecting maps and, when he died in February at the age of 56, he had amassed a collection of approximately one million maps.  After he passed away, his family hired realtor Matthew Greenburg to go through the 948 square foot house slated for demolition and rent a dumpster to dispose of the contents.  However, when Greenburg entered the house and saw the incredible collection he couldn’t bring himself to throw everything away.

Realtor Matthew Greenburg holding a shelf with some of the maps from Feathers’ collection.

Greenburg called in the Los Angeles Central Library’s map librarian Glen Creason to evaluate the collection.  He immediately saw that Feathers had collected some very rare maps.  Feathers’ family is donating the incredible collection to the LA Public Library.  The acquisition will launch the library into the top five library map archives in the country, behind only the Library of Congress, New York, Philadelphia, and Boston.  Creason stated that, “This dwarfs our collection — and we’ve been collecting for 100 years.”

Feathers stored his maps all over his home.

The process of cataloging the maps will take up to a year and the shelving to house it is expected to measure 600 feet.  The oldest map in the collection is a map of Europe dated to 1592.  Feathers’ Map Collection will become an incredible resource for researchers worldwide.

Is there any item that you collect and do you hope to one day donate it or pass it on?

To read more on this incredible story: click here.

Silly Symphony Skeleton Dance

“The Skeleton Dance” is a short animated film produced by Walt Disney and animated by Ub Iwerks, Walt Disney, Les Clark, Roy O. Disney, and Wilfred Jackson.  It was released on the 22nd of August, 1929, and has become an iconic, classic animated short to watch during the Halloween season.  The total budget for the animation was $5,386, which calculates out to $72,886.44 if it had been produced in 2012.

Dancing skeletons, black cats, and other spooky, traditional Halloween imagery are used in the animation.  While we may watch the short and simply enjoy it for a sense of nostalgia, having seen it as children, or find the idea of skeletons dancing in a graveyard humorous and silly, the imagery in “The Skeleton Dance” has an extensive history in Western Art that dates back to the early 1400s.  It is a modern adaptation of the danse macabre, or “dance of death,” which commonly features skeletons dancing and other images of death.

The Dance of Death by Michael Wolgemut, 1493, a woodcut illustration for the Liber Chronicarum. This is one of the most well known examples of a danse macabre.

The earliest danse macabre images appear in Paris and were dated to 1424-25.  Unfortunately, this mural at the Saints Innocents Cemetery was destroyed in 1669, when the charnier housing the mural was demolished to widen the road behind it.  These images appear only 75 years after the Black Death swept through Europe, the Middle East, and Asia absolutely decimating the population.  In Europe it is estimated that anywhere from 30 to 60 percent of the population and anywhere form 75 to 200 million individuals worldwide perished during the 1300s.  A charnier is a structure built on a burial ground that typically housed the bodies of people that died during the cold winter months until they could be buried after the ground thawed in the Spring or Summer.

An illustration of what the charnier at Saints Innocents Cemetery, Paris, France, with the original danse macabre mural would have looked like during the 1400s to mid 1600s.

The people of the Late Medieval period in Western Europe lived in a world that was dark and full of death.  When these macabre images of dancing skeletons became popular, not only had they lived through the plague within recent memory, but they had also experienced a drastic change in climate with the Little Ice Age intensification during the early 1400s, recurring episodes of famine, and social unrest ran rampant through all of Europe.  During this period wars such as the Hundred Years War claimed around 3.5 million lives.

Medieval people lived in a world where death was an ever present and a pervasive entity.  Scholars believe that genres like danse macabre express the fact that sudden death was always just around the corner, thus heightening the need for religious penitence and constant preparation for death.  They also postulate that portraying images of death and skeletons dancing or doing other humorous activities allowed medieval people to gain some amusement where little was available.

Happy Halloween season, everyone!

The Abbot by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1538, woodcut as part of his Dance of Death series.

To read more about the Silly Symphony Skeleton Dance: click here.

To read more about danse macabre imagery: click here.

To see a great gallery of medieval images of death: click here.

To read more about the crisis of the Late Middle Ages: click here.

Breaking News – 16 October 2012

My quest for upbeat art news for the blog has been foiled again.  The Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands, was robbed early this morning and seven priceless works of art were stolen.  The paintings removed in the heist include Waterloo Bridge, London (1901) and Charing Cross Bridge, London (1901) by Claude Monet, Harlequin Head (1971) by Picasso, and Reading Girl in White and Yellow (1919) by Matisse, Girl in Front of Open Window (1898) by Paul Gauguin, Self Portrait with a Japanese Background (circa 1890) by Meijer de Haan, and Woman with Eyes Closed (2002) by Lucian Freud.  The paintings were on loan from the privately held Triton Foundation collection.  This was the first time they were on exhibit to the public as a group.  The police are currently investigating the devastating theft.

For more information click here and here and here.

Charing Cross Bridge by Claude Monet, 1901
Waterloo Bridge, London by Claude Monet, 1901
Harlequin Head by Pablo Picasso, 1971
Girl Reading in White and Yellow by Henri Matisse, 1919
Girl in Front of Open Window by Paul Gauguin, 1898
Woman With Eyes Closed by Lucian Freud, 2002
Self Portrait with a Japanese Background by Meijer de Haan, circa 1890

Breaking News – 11th October 2011

Another painting was vandalized yesterday at the Museum of Liverpool.  A group of visitors to the museum reportedly rubbed their fingers in the not fully cured oil of The Beatles in America by Jonathan Gent.  The controversial painting was donated by the artist to the museum for a charity auction to benefit Claire House, a hospice center for children with life-threatening illnesses.  Experts say that the painting is so badly damaged they are unsure if it can be restored and sold at auction.

The Museum of Liverpool, image courtesy

The Click Liverpool story: click here.

The Fact Mag story: click here.