The Frist Center for the Visual Arts will open Tiffany by Design Friday, May 9, in the Upper-Level Galleries. This exhibition celebrates the artistry and craftsmanship of the colorful leaded glass lamps produced by Tiffany Studios between 1900 and 1918. Tiffany by Design will continue through Aug. 24. This exhibition is organized by The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, Long Island City, New York.

Tiffany by Design examines the beautiful design and complex fabrication of 40 lamps, including chandeliers and desk, library and hanging lamps, created by craftsmen in Tiffany Studios in New York under the direction of Louis Comfort Tiffany from 1902–1932. The exhibition examines every aspect of the lamps—from the beautifully crafted bronze bases and finials to the radiant colors of the leaded glass shades—to reveal what makes these designs so extraordinary. Visitors will learn how to recognize the hallmarks of a Tiffany lamp, including the deep rich color, the elegant design and motifs and the superior craftsmanship.

The exhibition also presents new evidence for the vital role of women in the Tiffany firm. Recently discovered letters show that Clara Driscoll, a longtime Tiffany Studios employee, designed some of the most iconic Tiffany lampshades. Without diminishing Tiffany’s own reputation, the exhibition endeavors to show that his artistic vision served as the inspiration and guide for all the artists and artisans who worked for him. 

Tiffany by Design features works from The Neustadt Collection. Dr. Egon Neustadt and his wife, Hildegard, began their collection with the purchase of one lamp in 1935. For the next five decades, they assembled an extensive collection of Tiffany lamps and glass. In 1970, Dr. Neustadt published The Lamps of Tiffany, which remains a standard reference on the range of styles, designs and colors of the lamps and glass created at Tiffany Studios.

“In terms of the variety, number and quality of Tiffany lamps, few museums anywhere in the world can compare with The Neustadt Collection,” says Trinita Kennedy, associate curator at the Frist Center. “This exhibition is able to demonstrate precisely what sets Tiffany lamps apart from the imitations found in so many antique shops.”

Signature pieces featured in Tiffany by Design include Dragonfly Library Lamp (1905–1910); Favrilefabrique Reading Lamp (ca. 1915); Daffodil Library Lamp (1900–1910); Turtleback Chandelier (ca. 1905); Lotus Pagoda Library Lamp (1895–1900); Peony Library Lamp (1905–1910) and Pond Lily Library Lamp (1900–1910). 

Louis Comfort Tiffany and Tiffany Studios

Based in New York City, Tiffany Studios (1902–1932) employed hundreds of master craftsmen and other skilled workers in the production of a complete range of decorative objects, including blown glass, leaded glass windows, mosaics, lamps, metalwork, enamels and ceramics.

Louis Comfort Tiffany was the creative force behind this large enterprise. His personal aesthetic and artistic vision is evident in every object made at Tiffany Studios. Tiffany windows, lamps and metalwork reflect his sense of beauty and color and love of rich materials. His interest in nature and enthusiasm for the decorative potential of glass, metal and other media served as inspiration to the craftsmen and the designers who worked for him. Tiffany’s style was influenced by the underlying geometry of the Arts and Crafts Movement and the sinuous curves and organic themes of Art Nouveau. Craftsmanship was paramount: no detail was too small, no process too complex.

Tiffany Studios produced thousands of lamps in hundreds of designs, although many of them were closely related. Examining the ways the designs and the forms were altered from object to object reveals much about the aesthetic vocabulary of Tiffany Studios. The wide range of possibilities becomes evident through a consideration of a single design, which might be realized in varying color schemes or adapted through the use of different shapes and sizes of glass. Each piece of glass was selected and cut from a larger sheet, which was itself unique. Add to this the diversity of Tiffany’s lamp bases, and it is safe to say that no two Tiffany lamps are identical.

Tiffany by Design is sponsored by SunTrust. The hospitality sponsor is Union Station.

Related Programs

Friday, May 23
ARTini:
Tiffany by Design
7 p.m., Grand Lobby
Free with purchase of gallery admission

Join Anne Taylor, curator of interpretation at the Frist Center, as she leads an informal conversation about one or two works of art in this exhibition. Complete your evening with music in the Grand Lobby, martinis, wine or other beverages at the cash bar, and visiting with friends.

Saturdays in June (June 7, 14, 21 and 28)  
Frist Center Kids Club:  Inspired by Tiffany
Meet in the Upper-Level Foyer
1–2:30 p.m.                                                             
Free
Call 615.744.3357 to reserve a space

Designed for 5–10 year olds, the Frist Center Kids Club offers exciting opportunities for children to discover, explore and create art. Free membership includes a Kids Club card, rewards for participation, and a variety of hands-on activities in the art studios and the Martin ArtQuest Gallery. Featured activity: Using decorative, semi-transparent paper, design your own paper version of Tiffany-style stained glass. 2008 Kids Club Sponsor: Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, The Pruett Financial Group.

Saturday, June 7
Walking Tour: Nashville by Design
10 a.m.–Noon
Auditorium 
Free
Call 615.744.3247 to reserve a space
Limited to 40 participants

Join Jim Hoobler, senior curator of art and architecture at the Tennessee State Museum, and acclaimed author, as he connects the history and craftsmanship of Tiffany style stained glass to some of downtown Nashville’s most notable buildings. This program will begin with a 30-minute lecture and culminate in a walking tour that features such buildings as Christ’s Church Cathedral, Downtown Presbyterian Church and Union Station.

Saturday, June 14 and June 15  
Adult Stained Glass Workshop
10 a.m.–4 p.m.   
Frist Center Studios
$40 for Frist Center Members; $45 for non-members
Call 615.744.3247 to register for this two-day workshop

Sam Simms, a Nashville-based glass artist leads a two-day workshop in conjunction with Tiffany by Design. Participants learn the basics of stained glass construction using the copper foil method. Each participant makes a stained glass creation to take home.

Thursday, June 26  
Gallery Talk: Tiffany by Design
7 p.m. 
Meet at the Information Desk
Free with purchase of gallery admission

Join Trinita Kennedy, associate curator at the Frist Center, for a tour of this exhibition. Complete your evening with music in the Grand Lobby, wine or other beverages at the cash bar, and visiting with friends.

Sunday, June 29                    
Curator’s Perspective:  “A Quest of Beauty: The Art Work of Louis Comfort Tiffany and The Collection of  Dr. Egon Neustadt” 
2 p.m. 
Free

Louis Comfort Tiffany’s life was dominated by his self-proclaimed “quest of beauty.” 

Captivated by color and transfixed by the splendor of the natural world, Tiffany spent his career translating the beauty around him into spectacular works of art. Join Lindsy R. Parrott, manager and curator of The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass in Long Island City, New York, for an overview of Tiffany’s career and artistic works, with a special look the world-renown collection of lamps and glass amassed by early Tiffany collector Dr. Egon Neustadt. 

Saturday, August 2 and August 3
Adult Stained Glass Workshop
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Frist Center Studios
$40 for Frist Center Members; $45 for non-members
Call 615.744.3247 to register for this two-day workshop

Sam Simms, a Nashville-based glass artist leads a two-day workshop in conjunction with Tiffany by Design. Participants learn the basics of stained glass construction using the copper foil method. Each participant makes a stained glass creation to take home.

Sunday, August 17 
Family Day
1 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
Free admission for all visitors
Call 615.244.3340 for information

Enjoy a fun-filled day of exciting art activities, live concerts and theatrical performances with friends and family! In addition to viewing the exhibitions on view—Color As Field: American Painting, 1950–1975, Shades of Gray: Four Artists of the Southeast and Tiffany by Design—visitors may participate in hands-on studio art activities that relate to the exhibitions. 

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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