William Morris: Important Works
Barry Friedman Ltd. is pleased to present a solo exhibition of important secondary market works by the world-renowned contemporary glass artist William Morris (b. 1957). This exhibition will feature two Canopic Jars from the artist’s rare and highly coveted series of 40 Egyptian-inspired vessels from the mid 1990s. Also on view are other top pieces culled from private collections and the artist’s personal archive including rhytons, suspended artifacts, hanging pouches and shards.
Morris draws from nature, myth, archeology, and ancient history. Most recently, the artist derived inspiration from the nomadic sea gypsies of Myanmar (formerly Burma), a present day primitive culture. After a month-long stay with the sea gypsies, Morris returned to Seattle to create his newest series, Medicine Jars, based on his fascination with Myanmar’s indigenous carved coconut medicine jars. Several of these works will also be on view.
Morris’ figures are not a nostalgic homage to nature, but rather an anthropological investigation of how humans have communed with animals and nature for centuries. Nature, very much a part of the intertwined ecosystem of life, has nonetheless fallen by the wayside in contemporary civilizations. Morris strives to reestablish these primitive connections. These objects intuitively define our humanity and reaffirm that we are all part of the larger continuum of life on earth.
James Yood of Northwestern University writes: “It is less important to him whether an original historical source be African or Native American, Asian or Semitic. What drives Morris is his vision of the fundamentally parallel human dramas of all cultures, the core tendencies that he sees linking us all in some greater chain of being. We live, we die, we love, we grieve, we wish to have some palpable sense of our journey through this world.”
Since 1990, Morris’ glass has become distinctly ‘un-glassy’, adopting qualities of clay, metal, leather or bone. The crackled surfaces and sandy earth-tone finishes make his pieces look ancient, like found objects dug from the earth. However, they glow from within, lifeblood coursing through them.
Morris’ technical skills are astounding. He employs a spontaneous approach, rather than careful and conscious planning; the way one might proceed with clay. While Morris’ glass is identified as ‘blown,’ very little air is actually used to inflate his forms. They are pulled and pushed, rolled and pinched by wood and metal tools for hours until a form is coerced out of a hot, viscous mass. The surface is dusted with glass powders to add color, pattern and texture, or rolled over a marver to embed more detailed drawings within the body of the work.
William Morris’ works are represented in numerous private and public collections around the world including: The Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, Japan; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris; Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg; and The Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He has consistently won awards including a National Endowment for the Arts, Individual Artist Grant, 1994; Outstanding Achievement in Glass, Urban Glass, New York, 1997; Visionaries Award, American Craft Museum, New York, 2001; Artist as Hero Award, National Liberty Museum, Philadelphia, 2002; Master of the Medium Award, James Renwick Alliance, Washington, D.C., 2005.
Running concurrently in adjacent galleries is an exhibition of secondary market lifetime casts by glass artists Stanislav Libenský & Jaroslava Brychtová plus a group exhibition, Emergence: Early American Studio Glass and Its Influences.
For visuals and more information, please contact Carole Hochman or Lisa Jensen Bonham at: 212 794-8950.