The Glass Art Market Is Heating Up–Really?

fred-wilson-glass-art
A Fred Wilson glass sculpture.
Photo: Benjamin Sutton.
dale-chihuly-glass-art

A Dale Chihuly glass sculpture.
Photo: Benjamin Sutton.

Now would be a good time for savvy collectors to start looking into glass art, a new Wall Street Journal article suggests. Reporter Peter S. Green consults with leading dealers, curators, and collectors in the field, all of whom are unsurprisingly enthusiastic about the accessibility and potential profitability of glass art.

“Art glass is a great way to begin collecting art because there is so much available at so many price points,” says Christie’s head of 20th century decorative art and design Carina Villinger, a sentiment echoed by Douglas Heller of New York’s glass-centric Heller Gallery.

“Admittedly you have to have some discretionary income,” he says. “But you don’t have to be wealthy.”

Nevertheless, many of the artists cited in the article would shatter your average non-wealthy person’s savings account. The Italian glass master Paolo Venini’s works, for instance, typically trade for about $70,000 at auction, while panels of glass cast by his countryman Lino Tagliapietra come with price tags between $95,000–250,000. But don’t discouraged, aspiring glass art collector, there are more affordable works by the likes of Amber Cowan and Nicole Chesney available in the $5,000–15,000 range.

fred-wilson-glass-art

A Fred Wilson glass sculpture.
Photo: Benjamin Sutton.

And besides, the rush of investing in this art is only half the excitement. The glass-blowing process itself adds an element of risk and danger.

“You can’t just start on your artwork and go eat lunch and come back,” the president of the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass, Harlan Fischer, says. “You have to continue working it in its molten form to prevent it cracking and shattering.”

Conspicuously absent from this consideration of the glass art market is the glass master himself, Dale Chihuly. Even in the burgeoning field of glass art, apparently, there’s such a thing as being too popular.


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