Bonhams Inaugural Modern and Contemporary Glass Auction

contemporary-glass.jpgOn Tuesday 19th May Bonhams, in association with Dan Klein Associates, will be holding its inaugural sale of Modern and Contemporary Glass, the first of its kind in the UK. The decision follows the sale in 2007 of a piece of contemporary glass by Bonhams in New York, a cast glass sculpture by Czech artist Stanislav Libensky, which achieved the world record price of $400,000.

The preview at Bonhams in New Bond Street will coincide with the major contemporary decorative arts event of the year ‘Collect, organised by the Crafts Council and held at the Saatchi Gallery on King’s Road, Chelsea. Prices are expected to range from £500 to £15,000′

Mark Oliver, Bonhams Director of 20th Century Decorative Arts, firmly believes “The sale in May is an exciting first in Britain, and a marvelous opportunity for collectors of post-war glass to secure some key pieces, many of which will be one-off examples produced exclusively for this sale. Our working relationship with Dan Klein Associates coupled with Bonhams’ International network has meant that the profile of the sale is likely to attract many keen bidders from around the world.”


As a special feature of the Bonhams auction eighteen artists, some emerging, some firmly established, have been invited to make work for the auction. The established artists include Alison Kinnaird whose installation is a feature of the Scottish Parliament building and Peter Furlonger, who is known for his exquisite lettering on glass. Among the emerging artists are three recent graduates from the Royal College of Art, Heike Brachlow, Sabrina Cant and Joseph Harrington, all of whom have already exhibited widely.

The body of the sale will include glass dating from 1950 to the present day with work from American and European artists. Among the earliest pieces included in the sale are a rare vase designed by Piero Fornasetti for the Venetian firm of S.A.L.I.R and two experimental Isle of Wight pieces.

“I was first attracted to the whole area of contemporary glass in the mid 1970s”, recalls Dan Klein, of Dan Klein Associates. “Then it seemed different from any glass I had ever seen. It was exciting, innovative and I felt here was the beginning of something new that had great potential for development. I was not alone in my enthusiasm and new ideas in glass spread like wild fire from America to Europe, the Far East and Australia.”

The thirty years between than and now have seen more artistic and technical innovation than perhaps any other area of the arts. Contemporary glass plays a significant role and has earned its place in art history with various museums around the world devoted solely to the medium. As the collecting public becomes more aware of the current state of the art along with its brief but exciting history it is exactly the right moment to hold the first auction in Great Britain devoted to this art form. Mark Oliver’s invitation to Dan Klein Associates to collaborate with Bonhams was enthusiastically accepted and the auction promises to offer a mixture of excellent new and historical work”

Artists began working with glass in a studio as opposed to a factory environment in the 1960s. Since then the impact of artists working in glass worldwide has been nothing short of amazing. Artists such as Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtova in the Czech Republic, Dale Chihuly in the United States, Erwin Eisch in Germany and Bertil Vallien in Sweden (all of whose work is included in the sale) are all in major museum collections, with Dale Chihuly’s chandelier extravaganza the centre piece of the entrance to the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The sale will include work by some of Britain’s best-known artists in glass such as David Reekie, Anna Dickinson and Steven Newell. All over Britain from John O’Groats to Land’s End artists have set up studios and the response to their work has been enthusiastic. In Britain The Contemporary Glass Society is a thriving organisation as is the Guild of Glass Engravers. In 2004 The V&A Museum, opened the new Merit Rausing Gallery devoted to international contemporary glass, next door to the older glass gallery. Jennifer Opie, senior curator of Glass & Ceramics at the V&A at the time, wrote in her book ‘Contemporary International glass’ (published to coincide with the opening of the new gallery) “In the last two decades, glass has come of age as a material for a global art form. There is an increasing conviction that it is the material for the future – for art, and for science.”

This is the first collaboration between Dan Klein Associates (Dan Klein and Alan Poole) and Bonhams, although Dan Klein is no stranger to Bonhams, having been International Executive Director of Phillips from 1998-2001 prior to its merger with Bonhams. Dan Klein Associates has been involved in staging major exhibitions including two Venice Glass Biennales ‘Venezia Aperto Vetro’ in 1996 and 1998, 21st Century British Glass in association with Daniel Katz Limited in 2005 and Lucio Bubacco’s extraordinary installation entitled ‘Eternal Temptation’ at SOFA Chicago in 2008.

Auction info