Trained in the classical Venetian approach to glass blowing, Jeff Zimmerman has pushed the boundaries of glassmaking for over three decades, producing sculptural objects that actively engage with the experience of light, color, and the natural environment. His approach, which emphasizes the aesthetic and emotional experience of functional objects, has inspired a generation of lighting designers.
Raised at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado, Zimmerman’s early exposure to nature remains a vital force in his work. Patterns found in the natural world, from the microscopic division of cells to the star formations in the cosmos, often serve as essential points of inspiration for Zimmerman’s creative investigations and artistic interpretations. His wall-mounted sculptures, often presented in clusters, engage in particular with the repetition and singularity of forms inherent to nature. His acclaimed Vine illuminated sculptures embrace the grace and beauty of organic forms, as curving lines extend outward in both small and monumental scales.
Zimmerman took his first glass blowing class in 1988, while pursuing a degree in Anthropology in Santa Barbara, California. He then decided to pursue his BFA at the Appalachian Center for Craft in Tennessee and learned the classical Venetian approach to glass blowing. He worked at the Pilchuk School in Seattle, where he was exposed to master Italian glass technicians Lino Tagliapietro and Pino Signoretto. Zimmerman’s training also includes working as a master glass blower at C.I.R.V.A., a contemporary design and art center in Marseille, France, and with such esteemed artists as Robert Wilson, Gaetano Pesce, and Robert Morris.
In 1999, Zimmerman’s solo work began to attract attention from collectors, curators, and the public, when he presented a sprawling sculpture installation titled Anthropology Museum of the Future at the Robert Lehman Gallery in Brooklyn, New York. Since then, Zimmerman has exhibited at galleries and institutions internationally, including Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; Emmanuel Perrotin Gallery, Paris; the Brooklyn Museum of Art; and the American Crafts Museum. His work is in the permanent collections of the Corning Museum of Glass, New York, and the Boghossian Foundation, Belgium, as well as private collections worldwide.
Zimmerman has also been influenced by the conceptual approaches of artists such as Maya Lin, Kiki Smith, and Ann Hamilton. His work is often driven by the physicality and performance that is part of the glassblowing process, which he has previously described as an active dance with heat and molten glass. At the same time, Zimmerman is driven by the relationships that can be produced and accentuated between object, light, space, and audience. These connections shift as he shapes and molds the glass, producing a broad and diverse spectrum of effects that change the experience of the work, whether for an individual within the confines of their home or a wider group in a public space.
“Jeff Zimmerman is a visionary artist, whose work deftly and singularly captures and shifts the boundaries between fine art, design, and performance practices. We’ve known Jeff for many decades, and we continue to be surprised and mesmerized by the way he pushes the possibilities of glass, both enriching and dispelling preconceived notions about the medium,” said Zesty Meyers, Principal at R & Company.