Of all the materials put to use and on display during Miami's art extravaganza, we saw several shimmering, shiny—but also innovative—works utilizing glass. Fragile, see-through and with the ability to morph light and color, it's as multidimensional as it is straightforward. It completed collages, accented drawings and encased moments of time. And in one instance, an installation matched and enhanced a collaborative collection of haute jewelry.
While oftentimes wary of the fashion world usurping attention belonging to art, we were in awe of the collaboration between the gold standard of crystals, Atelier Swarovski, and the mesmerizing, experimental Parisian design house Maison Martin Margiela. The "Crystalactite" avant-garde jewelry collection is reminiscent of Superman's home planet Krypton, with its large, sharp crystalline angles. The futuristic limited edition collection is also born of a new fusion process that allows each crystal to appear to be growing from the matte white resin, a bone-like base across the rings, bracelets, pendants and broaches.
Of equal importance, however, was the installation at the Margiela Miami boutique. "Stalker" (2013) by Baptiste Debombourg was a site-specific display of cascading layers of shattered, laminated glass. Some of the glass appeared to pour from the walls, while in other areas, it wrapped up the clothes as if they'd frozen and the ice then shattered. It was there to be touched and, in some instances, stepped on—blending audience and art. Debombourg channeled the nature of stalactites, much the same way the jewelry line does.
Within a room dedicated entirely to the experience of "Radiance" (2013) by Cathy Cunningham-Little we were taken by the prismatic rays stemming from light placed upon angled glass. The installation, seen at Miami Project, turned simplicity into brilliance. It only takes two elements to dazzle.
The most useful design item was "Tasting Cabinet" (2013) by German industrial designer Christian Haas. An elegant display of decanters, each was inspired by and designed for Marquis de Montesquiou's historic armagnac alcohol. Haas' glasses are made from clear and smoke-grey Theresienthal crystal. The pieces were housed at Wallpaper* Magazine 's Handmade event with Jaguar.
Artist Monica Zeringue utilized Swarovski crystals to punctuate her piece "Glisten" (2011). Her graphite figure, drawn upon primed linen, is masked both at the face and between her spread-eagled legs, with the hand-sewn sparkling items. Presented by Jonathan Ferrara Gallery at Miami Project, the glass actually conceals while attracting.
"Wonderglass," shown at Design Miami by designer Nao Tamura is a sculptural light display. "Flow(t)" (2013) stands as the centerpiece, a hand-blown glass chandelier. Each smooth, rounded piece is unique while giving a unified lagoon-like energy—cloudy, thick skies above a murky, darker underbelly.
Brooklyn-based Dustin Yellin froze a cave scene in time, constructed from glass, acrylic and other collage elements. "Etruscan Cave 2" (2013) places slender sheets of imagery within a clear cube. When looked at from the side, one can view all the sliver-like components, while it appears to be a diorama when viewed directly. This is more than framing, it is a fundamental part of the entire sculpture. Richard Heller Gallery presented the piece at Miami Project.
The trickiest use of glass manifested in Adam Belt's "You Seduced Me and I Was Seduced" (2013). Wood, canvas and paint epoxy form the background of a "painting" that was then coated in glass microbeads. One solitary light was pointed from a stand directly at the center of the wall-hung glass composition, causing a circular rainbow arc reflection. The arc shifts as the viewer shifts position, changing and completing the entire experience. It was an engaging, ever-surprising display from Quint Contemporary Art gallery also at Miami Project.
Additional reporting by Josh Rubin, Karen Day and Jonah Samson
Atelier Swarovksi by Maison Martin Margiela "Stalker" image courtesy of the brand, "Tasting Cabinet" and "Wonderglass" photos by Josh Rubin, "Radiance" and "You Seduced Me and I was Seduced" photos by Karen Day, all others by David Graver