Glass as Material


"All the effects of glass are marvelous… it must be used and kept in mind as an example of the life of man and of the things of this world which, though beautiful, are transitory and frail." —Vannoccio Biringuccio

Glass—a hard, transparent material based in silica—is occasionally found in nature, but most often man-made. Since the invention of the glass-blowing process in first-century Syria, a wide array of techniques and uses for the malleable material have been developed around the world. Notable historical examples include Byzantine mosaics, Medieval stained glass, and Art Nouveau glass in the late-19th century. Modern and contemporary artists have used glass to various optical and conceptual ends; Marcel Duchamp, Robert Smithson, and Larry Bell, for instance, continued to explore the potential of the material, while glass has been integral to pioneering works by architects and engineers since the industrial revolution. Capitalizing on advancements in glass and structural engineering, Joseph Paxton's Crystal Palace, Mies Van der Rohe's Seagram Building, Phillip Johnson's Glass House, and I.M. Pei's Pyramide at the Louvre each have shown the ability of glass to be the primary building material.

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