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HomeArts/Leisure'Tiffany by Design' celebrates artistry, craftmanship of Louis Comfort Tiffany

‘Tiffany by Design’ celebrates artistry, craftmanship of Louis Comfort Tiffany

Daytrips and Weekenders. As the summer months and the vacation/travel season approaches, we offer you, our readers, ideas for day trips and weekend excursions to places and events that can be done in a day, or maxed out over a weekend. Time and the high cost of gas fuel our efforts to find local or regional entertainment and activities. This column will appear each Thursday through Labor Day.

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts’ exhibition “Tiffany by Design” , which opened in May, continues to attract crowds interested in the art and artistry of Louis Comfort Tiffany. The exhibition features Upper-Level Galleries. This exhibition, which showcases 40 beautifully crafted Tiffany glass lamps, celebrates the craftsmanship of the colorful leaded glass lamps produced by Tiffany Studios between 1900 and 1918. Tiffany by Design will continue through Aug. 24, 2008.

Tiffany by Design examines the beautiful design and complex fabrication of 40 lamps, including chandeliers and desk, library and hanging lamps, created by craftsmen in Tiffany Studios in New York under the direction of Louis Comfort Tiffany from 1902–1932. (At left, the famous and familiar ‘Dragonfly’ lamp). The exhibition examines every aspect of the lamps—from the beautifully crafted bronze bases and finials to the radiant colors of the leaded glass shades—to reveal what makes these designs so extraordinary. Visitors will learn how to recognize the hallmarks of a Tiffany lamp, including the deep rich color, the elegant design and motifs and the superior craftsmanship.

The exhibition also presents new evidence for the vital role of women in the Tiffany firm. Recently discovered letters show that Clara Driscoll, a longtime Tiffany Studios employee, designed some of the most iconic Tiffany lampshades. Without diminishing Tiffany’s own reputation, the exhibition endeavors to show that his artistic vision served as the inspiration and guide for all the artists and artisans who worked for him.

Tiffany by Design features works from The Neustadt Collection. Dr. Egon Neustadt and his wife, Hildegard, began their collection with the purchase of one lamp in 1935. For the next five decades, they assembled an extensive collection of Tiffany lamps and glass. In 1970, Dr. Neustadt published The Lamps of Tiffany, which remains a standard reference on the range of styles, designs and colors of the lamps and glass created at Tiffany Studios.

“In terms of the variety, number and quality of Tiffany lamps, few museums anywhere in the world can compare with The Neustadt Collection. This exhibition is able to demonstrate precisely what sets Tiffany lamps apart from the imitations found in so many antique shops.” ~~ Trinita Kennedy, associate curator at the Frist Center

Signature pieces featured in Tiffany by Design include Dragonfly Library Lamp (1905–1910); Favrilefabrique Reading Lamp (ca. 1915); Daffodil Library Lamp (1900–1910); Turtleback Chandelier (ca. 1905); Lotus Pagoda Library Lamp (1895–1900); Peony Library Lamp (1905–1910) and Pond Lily Library Lamp (1900–1910).

Louis Comfort Tiffany and Tiffany Studios

Based in New York City, Tiffany Studios (1902–1932) employed hundreds of master craftsmen and other skilled workers in the production of a complete range of decorative objects, including blown glass, leaded glass windows, mosaics, lamps, metalwork, enamels and ceramics. Louis Comfort Tiffany was the creative force behind this large enterprise. His personal aesthetic and artistic vision is evident in every object made at Tiffany Studios. Tiffany windows, lamps and metalwork reflect his sense of beauty and color and love of rich materials. His interest in nature and enthusiasm for the decorative potential of glass, metal and other media served as inspiration to the craftsmen and the designers who worked for him. Tiffany’s style was influenced by the underlying geometry of the Arts and Crafts Movement and the sinuous curves and organic themes of Art Nouveau. Craftsmanship was paramount: no detail was too small, no process too complex.

Tiffany Studios produced thousands of lamps in hundreds of designs, although many of them were closely related. Examining the ways the designs and the forms were altered from object to object reveals much about the aesthetic vocabulary of Tiffany Studios. The wide range of possibilities becomes evident through a consideration of a single design, which might be realized in varying color schemes or adapted through the use of different shapes and sizes of glass. Each piece of glass was selected and cut from a larger sheet, which was itself unique. Add to this the diversity of Tiffany’s lamp bases, and it is safe to say that no two Tiffany lamps are identical.

Tiffany by Design is sponsored by SunTrust. The hospitality sponsor is Union Station. This exhibition is organized by The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, Long Island City, New York. Nina Gray is the curator of the exhibition and the author of the exhibition catalog.

Related Programs

Saturday 21 and 28: Frist Center Kids Club: 1–2:30 p.m. Inspired by Tiffany meets in the Upper-Level Foyer. This program is free. Call 615.744.3357 to reserve a space. Designed for 5–10 year olds, the Frist Center Kids Club offers exciting opportunities for children to discover, explore and create art. Free membership includes a Kids Club card, rewards for participation, and a variety of hands-on activities in the art studios and the Martin ArtQuest Gallery. Featured activity: Using decorative, semi-transparent paper, design your own paper version of Tiffany-style stained glass. 2008 Kids Club Sponsor: Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, The Pruett Financial Group.

Thursday, June 26 Gallery Talk: Tiffany by Design at 7 p.m. Participants should meet at the Information Desk. Free with purchase of gallery admission. Join Trinita Kennedy, associate curator at the Frist Center, for a tour of this exhibition. Complete your evening with music in the Grand Lobby, wine or other beverages at the cash bar, and visiting with friends.

Sunday, June 29 Curator’s Perspective: “A Quest of Beauty: The Art. The work of Louis Comfort Tiffany and The Collection of Auditorium Dr. Egon Neustadt”. This program is free. Louis Comfort Tiffany’s life was dominated by his self-proclaimed “quest of beauty.” Captivated by color and transfixed by the splendor of the natural world, Tiffany spent his career translating the beauty around him into spectacular works of art. Join Lindsy R. Parrott, manager and curator of The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass in Long Island City, New York, for an overview of Tiffany’s career and artistic works, with a special look the world-renown collection of lamps and glass amassed by early Tiffany collector Dr. Egon Neustadt.

Saturday, August 2 and August 3 Adult Stained Glass Workshop: 10 a.m.–4 p.m. at the Frist Center Studios. $40 for Frist Center Members; $45 for non-members. Call 615.744.3247 to register for this two-day workshop. Sam Simms, a Nashville-based glass artist leads a two-day workshop in conjunction with Tiffany by Design. Participants learn the basics of stained glass construction using the copper foil method. Each participant makes a stained glass creation to take home.

Sunday, August 17 Family Day from 1 p.m.–5:30 p.m. Free admission for all visitors. Call 615.244.3340 for information .Enjoy a fun-filled day of exciting art activities, live concerts and theatrical performances with friends and family! In addition to viewing the exhibitions on view—Color As Field: American Painting, 1950–1975, Shades of Gray: Four Artists of the Southeast and Tiffany by Design—visitors may participate in hands-on studio art activities that relate to the exhibitions.

Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, TN., is an art exhibition center dedicated to presenting the finest visual art from local, regional, U.S. and international sources in a program of changing exhibitions. The Frist Center’s Martin ArtQuest Gallery features more than 30 interactive stations relating to Frist Center exhibitions. Gallery admission to the Frist Center is free for visitors 18 and younger and to Frist Center members. Frist Center admission is $8.50 for adults, $7.50 for seniors and military and $6.50 for college students with ID. Thursday evenings, 5–9 p.m., admission is free for college students with a valid college ID. Discounts are offered for groups of 10 or more with advance reservation by calling 615.744.3246. The Frist Center is open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays, and Saturdays, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m.–9 p.m. and Sundays, 1–5:30 p.m., with the Frist Center Café opening at noon. Additional information is available by calling 615.244.3340 or by visiting our Web site at www.fristcenter.org.

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