Spectacular fine glass art by Jörg F. Zimmermann at the Museum of Ceramics

“Working on cold glass always means some form of destruction, even if it is done with the finest of processes” - Jörg F. Zimmermann, one of the most influential glass artists of the day makes his artistic credo crystal clear. His impressive sculptures, objects or pictures, which he creates working exclusively with hot, mouldable glass, are inspired by the complex and diverse levels of recurring hierarchies in nature. The fascinating works possess a provocative symbiosis of fragility and enormous strength, reflecting “this ‘coexistence’ according to the principles of natural law and order: from the tiniest spaces filled by microorganisms to cells visible to the naked eye, such as those of a honeycomb or of lather, and beyond to the giant sand dunes of the Sahara or to water waves”.


From glassmaker to glass artist

Jörg F. Zimmermann was born in 1940 in Uhingen, Baden-Württemberg. Despite his reluctance, he was left no option but to become involved with the material glass: As the eldest son, he took over his father’s glass design business after his death, although the glass-grinding noises constantly bothered him and he would much rather have become a gardener or farmer.

On completion of his apprenticeship as a glassmaker and his studies on glass design, he started working as a freelance industrial designer at the end of the sixties for prestigious companies, such as WMF or Rosenthal. During this period, he did not only provide designs but also developed innovative tools and manufacturing processes. From the seventies onwards, he worked progressively as an independent artist. Since 1976 he has also been engaged as a visiting lecturer, for example at the State Academy of Art and Design in Stuttgart. Several work and study visits, including stays abroad in Europe, the USA and North Africa, have given Zimmermann the opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences on an international level with other artists. In 2002 he was awarded the Hanns Model Prize for his works.


From pure functionality to art object

From an artistic perspective, Jörg F. Zimmermann upholds the tradition of the Studio Glass Movement, which emerged in the sixties in the USA, and which was met with a positive response worldwide. Up to that time, glass was used exclusively as a purely functional, transparent material, for example to manufacture windows, showcases or containers of every type. Only cold glass was handcrafted and decorated, as in grinding and cutting, etching, polishing or painting. Within the new Studio Glass Movement, for the first time, glass became a medium of the liberal arts. From being purely functional it developed into an art object sui generis: In mini-workshops, also called studios, experiments were conducted with individual items of unique, statuary or sculptural art produced directly in the kiln.

The strong aversion to that ‘violent’ attack on cold glass is a determining factor for the creative work of Jörg F. Zimmermann. The so-called honeycomb objects are characteristic of his work: The glass is blown through a metal mesh, which is also heated and thrusts of temperature, gravity and movement turn it into a unique solid figure – inside of which the bubbles building up form a honeycomb and finally solidify into a cell system. In the course of his work, Jörg F. Zimmermann’s guiding principle has always been “the idea to capture the structural processes existent in nature, evolved and organic, which recur both in the micro and macro cosmos.”

The exhibition "Faszination Glas" with works by Jörg F. Zimmermann is open to the public from 28 March to 16 September 2012 at the Museum of Ceramics Mettlach, Villeroy & Boch Discovery Centre.