Private view: Thursday 24 November, 6pm-8pm
David Gill presents an exhibition of new and recent work by Barbara Nanning, one of the most significant glass artists practising today.
Crystal, blown, hand-formed
I: H12.5 x L7 x D7 cm / H4.9 x L2.8 x D2.8 in; II: H20 x L7 x D7 cm / H7.9 x L2.8 x D2.8 in; III: H30 x L7 x D7 cm / H11.8 x L2.8 x D2.8 in
Crystal, blown, hand-formed
IV: H6 x L7 x D7 cm / H2.4 x L2.8 x D2.8 in; V: H9 x L8.5 x D8.5 cm / H3.5 x L3.3 x D3.3 in; VI: H6 x L12 x D6.5 cm / H2.4 x L4.7 x D2.6 in
Added to list
Over four decades, Nanning’s reputation has grown ever greater, thanks to her imagination, skill and aesthetic acuity, as well as an infinite drive to push the boundaries of what glass can do. On show in Gill’s Mayfair gallery in November will be a series – Coloured Shadows – that Nanning has been considering for ten years. Working with innovation in glass canes, Nanning has succeeded in mimicking visually the cell structures found in the natural world.
Barbara Nanning divides her time between Amsterdam, where her studio in is a historic building overlooking Vondelpark, and Novy Bor in the Czech Republic, a renowned centre for excellence in glass- making. In Novy Bor, her virtuoso team of seven glass blowers fulfil her wishes for unique pieces of platonic perfection; the superfluous has no place in her aesthetic cannon. “We communicate through drawings, designs and gesture,” she says. “I prepare everything to the last detail in advance in Amsterdam, then in Novy Bor, we achieve the ultimate in collaboration between artist and craftsman.”
Nanning, who trained in ceramics, chose glass as her preferred medium in 1994, for its fluidity, transparency, and dematerialised possibilities. She plays with its unparalleled ability to carry dazzling colour like an abstract expressionist painter, fully exploiting its emotional charge.
Among the work on show at David Gill will be new exercises in VERRE EGLOMISÉ – a technique which dates back to Roman times, where the interior of vessels is lined with micro-fine layers of gold leaf, allowing light to be absorbed in a uniquely soft and subtle way; the series called COLOURED SHADOWS, in which Nanning uses bespoke glass canes to create cellular imagery; and the BLACK AND SILVER vessels, lined in an energetic black and silver lustre. A series called CHIMAERA was realised with the virtuoso glass-cutter Ales Zverina between 2018 and 2020. The bold, crisp forms are ground and sculpted by hand from a special Anna-green glass and crystal, vibrant with the acid tones of uranium.
She will also introduce a completely new wall work, composed of tens of jewel-like glass rings that gently reveal the tension between the material’s organic fluidity and perfect forms. “I always allow the glass to be spontaneous in the end,” says Nanning.
Nanning’s work is widely collected, both privately around the world, and also by museums including Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, France, Bill Sr. and Mimi Gardner Gates, Seattle, USA and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, The Netherlands. A Monumental installation of significant importance is the Monument for the Mount Fuji “Petrified Dynamic Flow’ in the Tamaho branch of Gotemba City, commissioned by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (Saitama Prefecture), Japan.
In her 40 year career, her practice has evolved from intricate studies of the natural world, to minimalist investigations of colour, and she has worked at every scale, from domestically-sized objects to immense glass panels and sculptures. The purity of her latest work is a testament to the extraordinary depth of her creativity and resolution.
About Barbara Nanning
Barbara Nanning was born in the Hague in 1957. After studying at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, she quickly established a reputation as an artist working in ceramics, known for using paint pigments instead of conventional glaze. A commission from Royal Leerdam and the National Glass Museum in 1994 led to her discovery of glass. In her subsequent work, she found glass to be an exceptional medium to recreate the complexities of the natural world, creating botanically inspired works. More recently, she has maintained a love of organic forms, but to more minimalist effect. Along the way, she has secured her reputation as one of the foremost glass artists in the world.
Barbara Nanning, Dazzled Shadow, 2022. Glass, blown, hand-formed, 23 kr. louvre gilded H17 x L29 x D29 cm / H6.7 x L11.4 x D11.4 in