JEFF ZIMMERMAN: ‘One of my first inspirations was 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Stanley Kubrick film. In the very end sequence, one of the space pods, this simple white form, is in a baroque, ornate room. The contrast and the tension works so well. This concept informs my work.’
Jeff Zimmerman was born in 1968 in Kentucky and grew up in an artistic family. He studied anthropology when he took a lesson of glassmaking that changed his life. He mastered classical Venetian and Italian techniques and established his own practice. Asked how he regards himself – as an artist, a craftsman or a designer, he answers ‘I’m all of the above’. Balancing in between craft world, design and contemporary art, he escapes categorizations.
Being captivated by the process of glassblowing, he likes having his hands on it through the entire process instead of having assistants. The process is a bit like magic, the results actually, too since Zimmerman constantly finds new ways of exploring the medium. ‘I am trying to make the invisible visible and acknowledge the microscopic and the cosmic.’ The artist was always interested in the performative aspect of glassmaking. When learning the techniques, he was a part of a collaborative glassblowing group called B Team. They organised punk rock performances bringing glass closer to contemporary art. ‘I think the lights have a performative aspect to them. When people sit at a dinner table they interact with the furniture, with the light, with the art. I think my piece takes up a space that extends beyond the light fixture itself.’
Zimmerman works mainly in glass. He loves the material, which is challenging and seductive. Glass can also be surprising as at some point of the process is unpredictable. Zimmerman has a nice comment to that: ‘You basically start by making a bubble and then add the influence of gravity and centrifugal force or heat. It’s a meditation on physics every time you’re in the studio blowing glass, and I’ve seen something new every time I’ve gone in.’ Sometimes he simply plays with the material and checks where it takes him. He likes experimenting, as he says, half of his work is experimenting. Lately he focuses on the specifics of glass. He takes huge panels and hit them so that they break, each time in a different way. Then he sculptures small pieces and fuse them back together into a new, larger form. ‘I play with bubbles or heat or gravity and, once I find something that’s interesting, I take it and repeat in many forms and build a light or a sculpture our of it.’
Luckily, since the subject is beautiful, the book is richly illustrated, featuring many examples of Jeff Zimmerman’s sculptures (made of both glass and metal) as well as lights (including installation images) and installations. There are many never-before-seen photography of works often created on a commission. We also see the artist at work, there are some pics showing the creation process. The foreword by a fellow artist John Drury is accompanied by an interesting interview between Zimmermann and Sean Kelly, contemporary art dealer.