Harvey K. Littleton

Harvey Littleton (1922-2013) - The Pioneer of American Studio Glass

Harvey Littleton, a seminal figure in the development of studio glass art in the United States, was born in Corning, New York, in 1922, and passed away in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, in 2013. Regarded as the "father" of the American studio glass movement, his life and work are of great significance in the annals of contemporary art history.

Early Life and Education: After serving in the United States Signal Corps during World War II, Littleton embarked on a journey of artistic exploration. He pursued a degree in industrial design at the University of Michigan, which he successfully attained in 1947. Furthering his education, he earned a master's degree in 1951 from the prestigious Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Academic career: The same year he completed his master's degree, Littleton took a teaching position in the Department of Art and Art Education at the University of Wisconsin.
He remained a member of the faculty until 1977.
During his tenure, he played a key role in developing and promoting glassblowing as an art discipline within college and university programs.

Pioneering Studio Glass: Initially trained in ceramics, Littleton's artistic journey took a remarkable turn in the late 1950s when he delved into the possibilities of studio glass art. His groundbreaking work, supported by research sponsored by the Toledo Museum of Art, led to the development of specialized equipment and a glass-melting formula that allowed him to work with glass at lower temperatures. This innovation enabled him to engage in glassblowing within a studio setting, rather than the traditional industrial factory. 

Legacy and Recognition: Harvey Littleton's influence on the world of glass art is immeasurable. His program at the University of Wisconsin served as a nurturing ground for a generation of talented glass artists, including luminaries such as Dale Chihuly and Fritz Dreisbach. In recognition of his contributions to the craft, he was honored with the prestigious Gold Medal by the American Craft Council in 1983.

Writings: Harvey Littleton was not only an artist but also a prolific author. His book "Glassblowing: A Search for Form," published in 1971, remains a valuable resource in the field of glass art.

Influence and Documentation: For a comprehensive exploration of Harvey Littleton's life and contributions, interested readers are encouraged to consult "Skilled Work: American Craft in the Renwick Gallery" by Kenneth R. Trapp and Howard Risatti, a publication from the National Museum of American Art in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution Press in 1998.

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