University Museums

Title: Splendor of the Universe
Name: Sculpture
Date: 1986
Medium: Blown glass
Country/Culture: American
Dimensions: 7 x 2 3/4 in. (17.8 x 7 cm)
Classification: Decorative Arts, Glass
Credit Line: Purchased with funds from the Iowa State Center. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames.
Object Number: UM86.396ab
More Information
Leon Applebaum has been a leading figure in the American studio glass movement since the 1970s. He received his M.A. from the Peabody College of Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee in 1973. In 1975 he studied glass blowing at Akrahallskollan in Orrefors, Sweden. Applebaum received an M.F.A. from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York in 1981. His work has been displayed in numerous exhibitions and is represented in major collections throughout the United States including Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York; Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio, and Canon Art Institute, Canton, Ohio.

Glass clarity was historically a challenge for glass artists. It was a struggle to blow glass without bubbles. Tiny air or gas filled pockets, caused by faulty glass making techniques, appeared as nuisances to glassmakers. Starting around the 1930s, Louis C. Tiffany made bubbles into a new style of decoration. Chemicals, such as potassium nitrate, were injected into the glass causing a reaction that formed bubbles. Leon Applebaum, in this contemporary piece, has added bubbles to create a contrast to the clear glass. Along with colored veils, the bubbles seem to mimic a flowing movement from the top of the glass to the bottom. It acts like a perpetual motion vessel in freeze frame.