Richard Marquis: Keepers is a survey exhibition of the art of a towering figure in the Studio Glass movement. The project is a collaboration between WAM and Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington. Vicki Halper, who has worked on several projects with WAM, is the Seattle-based guest curator.
Starting in the 1960s, at the beginning of the Studio Glass movement, and throughout his career, Marquis (born 1945) kept many of his finest and favorite artworks. He calls this treasure trove his “keepers.” Wichita will have over 100 pieces from this collection on view in summer 2021.
As one of the leading artists of the craft renaissance of the 1960s of 1970s, Marquis is internationally recognized for his technical mastery of glass, iconoclastic humor, and sharp intellect.
Along with Harvey Littleton and Dale Chihuly, he has been key to bringing glass from the factory floor to artists’ studios, university art departments, and museum collections.
Marquis absorbed important strains of the funk and fetish finish styles prevalent in California studio ceramics of the 1960s and 1970s, when he was studying clay and glass at the University of California, Berkeley. Funk was a cruder, wittier version of pop art, which embraced consumer culture and was prevalent on the East Coast. Fetish finish brought small-scale abstraction and intricate surfaces to ceramic sculpture.
In 1969, a Fulbright fellowship to Italy allowed Marquis to learn Venetian glass techniques at the storied Venini Factory. There, he became the first American to master the ancient, labor-intensive filigrana and murrine techniques of patterning glass. Marquis, an inveterate collector of odd and cheap objects (e.g. salt shakers, bowling balls, enamel teapots, oil cans, etc.), began to include them in his meticulous, technically astonishing glass constructions.
The artist is collected and admired around the world. The Smithsonian Institution honored him with their Masters of the Medium Award. He’s been honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards by the Glass Art Society and Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass. Distinguished American museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Toledo Museum of Art, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art hold his artwork. Art museums in England, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Australia, and other countries also collect art by the esteemed Richard Marquis.