I first became aware of David Huchthausen's work when I visited Seattle in August 2000. They had one Huchthausen on display at William Traver Gallery... the combination of clear glass, the colors and precision fitting of the laminated glass, and the reflective and refractive effects caused by fracturing and grinding lenses into the clear glass was VERY cool. When I asked Dan Kany why I had never seen any of Huchthausen's works anywhere else, Dan explained to me that Huchthausen only produces a dozen or so works in any given year. And, because of his reputation as an artist, many of Huchthausen's works end up in museums. I was intrigued, and added Huchthausen to my list of artists whose works I liked.

Early in 2001, a new page for Huchthausen appeared on the Traver Gallery web site, with four works listed. I thought that the fourth work shown was pretty cool... so, in mid-March, I e-mailed Dan and asked him about the work. Could he send me some more pictures and details about this work? Sure, said Dan, and he sent me some new pictures that he took. It was at this point that we discovered that the picture on the web site did not actually match the work that they had in the gallery... the pictures he sent me were of a work that had the same basic shape and color scheme, but that was definitely a different work. This proved to be a blessing, though, because I actually liked the new pictures better than the picture on the web site. After talking more with Dan and with David himself, I decided to acquire this work.

This work is made of several different types of glass... clear optical glass makes up the bulk of the work, and the rest of the work is a mix of optical glass and a type of glass called vitrolite, which was popular in the Art Deco period of the 1920s and 1930s. Basically, David starts with a slab of clear optical glass, which he cuts and polishes until it is the desired shape. One corner of the slab is fractured with a tungsten carbide chisel to produce a base upon which the work will rest... in the case of this work, David also used a diamond grinder to add a lens to the base. The irregular shape and surface of the base creates opportunities for some very interesting reflective effects to occur. Once the slab and base are complete, Huchthausen begins to add the remaining optical and vitrolite pieces to the upper two surfaces of the work... these are cut and fit very precisely with each other before being laminated onto the main slab.

Within this particular work, the following types of glass are used:

  • There are a few stripes of neodymium dichroic glass... this glass changes color depending on how light hits it.
  • There are several areas made of Schott optical glass, from Germany... there's cobalt blue glass that was made in the 1970s, pale green glass from the 1980s, and teal glass that derives its color from copper within the glass.
  • The "grid" of pale green glass is antique vitrolite from Germany. This glass was probably made in the early 1950s.
  • There are several areas made of Asahi glass, from Japan.
  • The yellow stripes within the work are made of Libby Owens Ford vitrolite. Ford trademarked the term "vitrolite" in the 1920s.
  • The light green stripe of glass is also vitrolite... this particular color of vitrolite was used in the manufacture of counters for ice cream parlors in the 1920s.
  • The stripe of sapphire glass was made using glass from the window of a bar, also from the 1920s.
So, despite the modern, futuristic look of this work, it actually contains quite a bit of antique glass. This is a very nice example of reusing old materials to make something new.

The result of all of this work is extremely cool... you can see the colored glass not only from the outside, but also reflected in the facets of the main slab and the rough surface of the base. I really love this effect... I think it's one of the neatest things an artist can do with glass.

There is an interesting story about how this work went unsold for so long. Initially, it was sent to Galerie L, in Hamburg, Germany, for a show of David's work there. There it remained for three years, until David finally asked the gallery to return it to him. When he received it, he decided to keep the work for himself... and so it found a home on his desk, where it remained until 2001. When the Seattle/Tacoma area was rocked by an earthquake in early 2001, David lost some works that he was working on for his upcoming show at William Traver Gallery... so, to make up for that loss, he decided to add this work to the show. Fortunately, I saw it before anyone else did. Interestingly, Dan Kany told me that he kept this work on his desk, as well... so, in order to continue what has become a tradition, I am keeping this work on my desk.

This work is also featured in a 1994 catalog jointly produced by Leo Kaplan Modern Gallery, New York; Galerie L, Hamburg, Germany; and Art Niki, Tokyo, Japan.

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