Academic Session 12: Loughborough 2017

43rd Annual Conference & Art Book Fair
Loughborough University
6th to 8th April 2017

Flawed Illumination: Broken glass in modern and contemporary art


Taisuke Edamura, Independent Scholar,

The early 20th century saw the emergence of broken glass as a source of new forms and concepts in artistic practice. Take, for instance, Josef Albers’ 1920s broken glass assemblages or the accidental shattering of Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass (1915-23), which triggered a ‘chance’ transformation of the work’s complex iconography. These early examinations of broken glass demonstrated its aesthetic value, as opposed to its material limitations, creating possibilities for a reinterpretation of its precarious nature. Its potential both as an artistic material and as a subject matter has since been largely explored by many artists, whose differing deployments of broken glass show its diversity in form, function and dissemination. Its sharp materiality stimulates more than just eyesight alone and induces a wide range of feelings from fear to liberation. Meanwhile, the diversity in approaches to ‘breaking glass’ has elicited many thoughtful artistic responses to the theme of violence and its implications. The changing artistic language and critical attitudes to broken glass therefore allow us to reconsider the process and spaces of its production. This session presents papers that provide close readings of artists who productively complicate our conventional grasp of glass through highlighting the capacity of its ‘flawed’ state, illuminating a new facet of the history of modern and contemporary art that can be seen through a specific material.

Click here to download a .pdf of this session's paper abstracts

Diana Tuite (Colby College Museum of Art) Mirrored Concerns: Joseph Cornell’s daguerreotype objects and Mina Loy

Withdrawn - Sarah Happersberger (Arnolfini) Playing with Fragments: Wim T. Schippers’ use of broken glass

Marissa Vigneault (Utah State University) Kissing Broken Glass: Pleasure and pain in the performative gestures of Hannah Wilke, VALIE EXPORT and Gina Pane

Taisuke Edamura (Independent Scholar) Broken Glass, Window, Violence