Corning Museum of Glass Unveils 2012 Rakow Commission by Danish Artist Steffen Dam

. November 1, 2012

The Corning Museum of Glass today unveiled its 2012 Rakow Commission work: Flower Block by Danish artist Steffen Dam. The artist’s most ambitious work to date, Flower Block is a grouping of 24 glass blocks in the style of his well-known series of glass panels, each containing the artist’s interpretation of parts of a flower.


Steffen Dam

Dam’s glass blocks, panels and jars invoke fossilized biological and botanical slides used in scientific research – but the function of the ambiguous specimens trapped in glass is aesthetic, not scholarly.

The artist learned about the natural world from his paternal grandfather, whose library was filled with illustrated volumes on biology, natural sciences, and flora and fauna. Dam’s initial training as a toolmaker is obvious in the refined craftsmanship of his cut, drilled and polished glass works.

Dam’s sculptures have been compared to the lampworked flowers and sea creatures of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka and the naturalist drawings of Ernst Haeckel. However, unlike these well-known figures of science, Dam’s work does not imitate the natural world. He creates his specimens in his jars and cabinets of curiosity from memory; embracing spontaneity and unexpected results. As Dam says, “My cylinders contain nothing that exists in the ocean, my specimens are plausible but not from this world, my plants are only to be found in my compost heap, and my flowers are still unnamed.”

Dam’s work is found in public and private collections throughout the world, including the Glasmuseet, Ebeltoft, Denmark; the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany; Museum of Art and Design, New York, NY; the Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA; Seven Bridges Foundation, Greenwich, CT; The Anneberg Collections, Nykøbing, Denmark; The Danish Arts Foundation, Denmark; The Danish Museum of Decorative Art, Copenhagen, Denmark; and The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, Norway. His awards include The Crafts Prize of 1879 awarded in 1995, The Ole Haslund Art Prize awarded in 1996, and The Hempel Glass Prize awarded in 2002.

Inaugurated in 1986, the Rakow Commission is awarded to professional artists whose work is not yet represented in the Museum’s collection. The Commission supports new works of art in glass by encouraging emerging or established artists to venture into new areas that they might otherwise be unable to explore because of financial limitations. It is made possible through the generosity of the late Dr. and Mrs. Leonard S. Rakow, Fellows, friends, and benefactors of the Museum.

Each commissioned work is added to the Museum’s permanent collection and is displayed publicly, in the Museum’s Modern Glass Gallery, for the first time during the Museum’s Annual Seminar on Glass. Dam was present to unveil Flower Block. His Rakow Commission lecture will be available to view on cmog.org at a future date. – www.cmog.org

Category: Museum News

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