April 15 Art Minute: Toots Zynsky, “Untitled,” from the “Tierra del Fuego Series”

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Toots Zynsky (American, born 1951), Untitled, from the Tierra del Fuego Series. Filet de verre (glass threads), fused, 1988. H. 6 5/8 in.; W. 10 3/4 in.; D: 10 in. Gift of Dorothy and George Saxe, 1991.141. Glass Pavilion, Study Gallery, Contemporary cases

Toots Zynsky (American, born 1951), Untitled, from the Tierra del Fuego Series. Filet de verre (glass threads), fused, 1988. H. 6 5/8 in.; W. 10 3/4 in.; D: 10 in. Gift of Dorothy and George Saxe, 1991.141. Glass Pavilion, Study Gallery, Contemporary cases

Mary Ann (“Toots”) Zynsky explores the fragility of glass as she fashions works of daring color and intense power. Her works suggest both sculptural object and functional vessel, an ambiguity that beguiles with color and reassures with familiar form. […] Zynsky adopted a technique that she jokingly calls “filet de verre” (a play on the term for the traditional glass technique, pâte-de-verre), which involves drawing threadlike fibers from colored glass rods. She fuses these filaments, measuring ten to fourteen millimeters thick, into a variety of vessel shapes by arranging the filaments on a bed of compressed plaster, then heating them in a warm-glass kiln.

Zynsky’s Bowl (1988) from the Tierra del Fuego series reveals a deft placement of color blocks that “spark” one another. Contrasting shades of pink and green are juxtaposed freely, recalling the shimmering flesh tones in a painting by Rubens or van Gogh. By placing slender wisps of colored glass side by side so that they make “stepped junctures” between color passages, Zynsky has emphasized the constructed aspect of her process.


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