Preserving the Archive of Marvin Lipofsky

On January 15, artist Marvin Lipofsky passed away. Born in 1938, Lipofsky was known as one of the pioneers on the American Studio Glass movement. After graduating with a B.F.A. in Industrial Design from the University of Illinois, he went on to study clay and metal at the University of Madison at Wisconsin. His first ceramics class was with Harvey Littleton, ceramicist turned glassmaker, who invited him and the other students to blow glass. Marvin went on to accept a job as an instructor at the University of California, Berkeley, and started the glass program there. During that time, he trained students who went on to become studio artists themselves, including Richard Marquis and Jay Musler.

Marvin Lipofsky working in his studio, 2006. Photo by M. Lee Fatherree, © Marvin Lipofsky, Collection of the Rakow Research Library, The Corning Museum of Glass

Marvin Lipofsky working in his studio, 2006. Photo by M. Lee Fatherree, © Marvin Lipofsky, Collection of the Rakow Research Library, The Corning Museum of Glass

Lipofsky taught classes at many art and craft schools, from Pilchuck Glass School to Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Israel. He traveled a great deal throughout the U.S. and internationally, documenting his travels and teachings through photos and video, which the Rakow Research Library has been working to digitize.

Lori Fuller, associate librarian, collections management, talks about her experience digitizing Marvin’s vast archive:

The Rakow Research Library has had the honor and privilege to work with Marvin Lipofsky and his assistant, Jeanette Bokhour, to digitize Marvin’s vast collection of slides, which document Marvin’s career from beginning to end through his art, teachings, and travels. The Rakow Library furthers the Museum’s overall mission to tell the world about glass by building collections that document the history of glass. Working with artists like Marvin is central to fulfilling that mission.

Marvin Lipofsky working in his studio, 1980. Photo by Monica Lee, © Marvin Lipofsky, Collection of the Rakow Research Library, The Corning Museum of Glass

Marvin Lipofsky working in his studio, 1980. Photo by Monica Lee, © Marvin Lipofsky, Collection of the Rakow Research Library, The Corning Museum of Glass

The Lipofsky digital collection, held at the Rakow Research Library, consists of over 40,000 images taken by Marvin, featuring subjects including:

  • Marvin working glass at symposia and events around the world.
  • The Great California Glass Symposium
  • Studios at UC Berkeley and The California College of Arts and Crafts
  • Students he taught at UC Berkeley (Richard Marquis, Paula Bartron, John Lewis, Alan Rice, and John Naess)
  • Glass artists at work (Dale Chihuly, Gianni Toso, Harvey Littleton, Joel Philip Myers, Dominick Labino, Fritz Dreisbach, Therman Statom, Howard BenTre, Jamie Carpenter, et. al.)
  • Photos from taken during his travels: pictures of the people he met and the factories, studios, and schools he visited
Lino Tagliapietra and factory workers. Effetre International, 1980. Photo by Marvin Lipofsky, © Marvin Lipofsky, Collection of the Rakow Research Library, The Corning Museum of Glass

Lino Tagliapietra and factory workers. Effetre International, 1980. Photo by Marvin Lipofsky, © Marvin Lipofsky, Collection of the Rakow Research Library, The Corning Museum of Glass

Additionally, the Library collaborated with Marvin to digitize his film collection. These 57 films originally shot on 8 and 16 mm film, date back to the early 1960s.

The collection includes footage from:

  • Blow Glass! – a 1969 film featuring glass blowing at the University of California, Berkeley. Marvin is shown working in the studio along with several students: Richard Marquis, Paula Bartron, and Robert Naess. At the end of the film are scenes of the National Guard and People’s Park demonstrations.
  • A 1976 film showing Marvin and students building a furnace at the California College of Arts and Crafts.

In 2009, Marvin received the Glass Art Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the GAS conference in Corning, NY. In Tina Oldknow’s introduction of Marvin at the ceremony she states, “When I asked other artists what kinds of things Marvin was doing in the early years—how they remember him—they invariably answer they remember his lectures and all of his slides of other peoples’ work in glass around the world. Or that they always saw him taking photographs. He has created an invaluable visual record of the history of his studio glass movement through his photography.”

The Rakow Library is committed to preserving and sharing Marvin’s archive so that his work will continue to inspire future artists and students. You can learn more about Marvin’s career and teachings as we begin to launch portions of his digital collection this spring and summer.

Read an interview with Marvin and Tina Oldknow, or watch an oral history with Marvin conducted during GAS 2009, below.

Glass Art Society Oral History, Marvin Lipofsky, 2009 from Glass Art Society on Vimeo.


The Rakow Research Library is open to the public 9am to 5pm every day. We encourage everyone to explore our collections in person or online. If you have questions or need help with your research, please use our Ask a Glass Question service.

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