Jeff Zimmerman

A biography

A celebrated master glass artist, Jeff Zimmerman (b. 1968) belongs to a group of daring contemporary artists who employ the ancient material as a means of expression rather than an end in itself. His sculptures and functional pieces exploit techniques of advanced glassmaking and the defining properties of glass itself — the way it hovers between liquid and solid states, its reflectivity and tactile qualities, its habit of moving constantly while still molten — to evoke a dimension of experience where things are happening that we can feel but not necessarily define. His signature organic shapes are intensely colorful but soft, mysterious but welcoming, disquieting yet familiar. Drawn formally from nature, they result from the dramatic pushing, pulling, dripping and spinning actions through which they took shape — processes that Zimmerman exploits to suggest the mutability of the worlds around us and within us.

Raised by a painter mother and a sculptor stepfather at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado, his early exposure to nature remains a vital force in his work. In 1988, while pursuing a degree in Anthropology in Santa Barbara, California, Jeff took his first glass blowing class. This led to learning the classical Venetian approach to glass blowing while receiving his BFA at a small arts school in the woods of Tennessee. Summers were spent on staff at the Pilchuk School in Seattle. It was there that he was exposed to master Italian glass technicians Lino Tagliapietro and Pino Signoretto. Jeff began his apprenticeship, honing his technique while developing his own artistic voice. He was also exposed to contemporary artists such as Maya Lin, Kiki Smith, and Ann Hamilton. Jeff was very influenced by the way these artists approached glass from a conceptual platform and he would go on to create work in glass for them.

Jeff’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. While making experimental sculpture and traveling throughout Europe and Africa, Jeff worked with such esteemed artists as Robert Wilson, Gaetano Pesce and Robert Morris.

Toward the end of his time in school, Jeff joined a collaborative, experimental glass blowing group called the B Team. The B Team traveled to colleges and universities as visiting artists. Their performances were punk rock, cutting edge “happenings.” In one performance, molten glass rainstorms unleashed themselves on steel umbrellas, pouring hot and immediate over the players. The B Team received the BESSY award from the Dance Theater Workshop for their performances, as well as the Tiffany Award. Their work was exhibited at the New Museum for Contemporary Art in New York and the Grand Arts Center in Kansas City. A tour in Japan shortly followed.

His solo work began to attract attention from collectors, curators, and the public in 1999, when he presented a sprawling sculpture installation at the Robert Lehman Gallery in Brooklyn, New York, titled “Anthropology Museum of the Future,” featuring glass fetish pieces in black light. For three years Jeff served on the faculty of Urban Glass in Brooklyn as an instructor.

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. In 2011 he completed commissions for the Hyundai Capital headquarters in Seoul, Korea, and Irvine, California. 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 currently lives and works in New York.