Harvey Littleton

Harvey Littleton (June 14, 1922 – December 13, 2013) was an American glass artist and educator.

Born in Corning, New York, he grew up in the shadow of Corning Glassworks, where his father headed Research and Development during the 1930s. Expected by his father to enter the field of physics, Littleton instead chose a career in art, gaining recognition first as a ceramist and later as a glassblower and sculptor in glass. In the latter capacity he was very influential, organizing the first glassblowing seminar aimed at the studio artist in 1962, on the grounds of the Toledo Museum of Art. His aim was to take the manufacture of glass out of its industrial setting and put it within the reach of the studio artist.

In his role as an educator, Littleton was an “…outspoken and eloquent advocate of university education in the arts.” He organized the first hot glass program at an American university (the University of Wisconsin–Madison) and promoted the idea of glass as a course of study in university art departments in the Midwest and northeastern United States. Several of Littleton’s students went on to disseminate the study of glass art throughout the U.S., including Marvin Lipofsky, who started a glass program at the University of California at Berkeley and Dale Chihuly, who developed the glass program at the Rhode Island School of Design and later was a founder of Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington.

Littleton retired from teaching in 1976 to focus on his own art. Exploring the inherent qualities of the medium, he worked in series with simple forms to draw attention to the complex interplay of transparent glass with multiple overlays of thin color.