Marvin Lipofsky

Renowned San Francisco Bay Area teacher and sculptor who worked with glass, died on Friday, January 15, 2016. He was 77.

Lipofsky earned his BFA in Industrial Design, 1962 at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, followed by an MS and MFA in Sculpture, 1964, University of Wisconsin, Madison. 

Lipofsky was among the first students to work with Harvey Littleton, the celebrated founder of the American Studio Glass movement, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Immediately upon graduation, he was hired by the University of California, Berkeley to build and direct its glass program, where he taught until 1972. Teaching full-time, he concurrrently developed the glass program at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland where he remained until 1987, when he left to work full time in his studio in Berkeley. 

Lipofsky’s work was prized for its rhythmic forms and complex concave and convex shapes, which suggested both abstract and organic sources. A consummate colorist, and fine artist, Lipofsky took great advantage of the chromatic possibilities of working with hot glass. He was dedicated to honoring the artists who worked with him and the places where he made his work. 

Celebrated for his working method, Mr. Lipofsky regularly traveled to glass workshops around the USA and the world (he visited 30 foreign countries, including Bulgaria, China, Israel, New Zealand, the Soviet Union, and from coast to coast in the USA; he taught over 300 workshops around the world), where he gathered the raw material for his pieces, worked with local sculptors and their students in their hot shops, observed local communities and traditions, and then returned to Berkeley to assemble his final objects. Marvin Lipofsky functioned as an ambassador for sculpture in glass.

Lipofsky’s work was widely exhibited and collected. It is included in the permanent collections of the Corning Museum of Glass, the Museum of Art and Design in New York, the Oakland Museum of California, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the St. Louis Museum of Art, the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Renwick Gallery (National Museum of American Art) Smithsonian Institution at Washington, D.C., and the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, among many others. 

Among the numerous awards earned are two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, The Living Treasures of California Award, Lifetime Acheivement Award from the Glass Art Society, The American Craft Council College of Fellows (New York), and Master of the Medium Award,from the James Renwick Alliance, Washington, D.C.

Photo: Marvin Lipofsky Berkeley, CA Studio, 2003 Photo credit: M. Lee Fatherree.