“It looks like a bomb went off in my studio,” says Jeff Zimmerman in the wake of preparations for his exhibition at R & Company. The show (on view through December 21) fills the lower Manhattan gallery with Zimmerman’s blown-glass creations. Some are suspended from the ceiling; others hang on walls; still others rest on pedestals. They range from 12-inch candlesticks to more-than-six-foot-tall towers of mirrored-glass “river rocks.”
“You think it’s going to fall over, which makes it intriguing, but it doesn’t,” Zesty Meyers notes of one such tower. Meyers, a partner with Evan Snyderman in R & Company, has been showing Zimmerman for 18 years. “Jeff is a superstar,” he states. “He fills a void in people’s homes and offices that the architecture, interior design or art collection have not filled. His work completes the picture.”
Zimmerman’s pieces explore ideas he has been developing since he took up glassblowing, at age 19. As an apprentice to Venetian masters, he sought to absorb classical methods. And then, like a painter who learns to draw the human figure before graduating to abstraction, he began modifying the perfect forms he had been trained to make. Zimmerman says his collaborators are heat, gravity and centrifugal force; he lets them have their way with his blown works.
Surrendering to nature, he explains, “is not new in art — think of paint being allowed to drip on canvases.” Asked to name his favorite artists, Zimmerman (who grew up at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, in Colorado, where his mother was a painter and his stepfather a sculptor) points not to other glassblowers but to Matthew Barney, for his ability to create quirky, “not easily definable” objects; to James Turrell, “who uses light in incredible ways”; and to David Lynch, for his surreal effects.
“An exhibition of Jeff’s work is important, so people can see how effective and how sensual it is,” Meyers says. “But we take it for granted that pieces will end up being customized for particular spaces.”
Each design, he adds, “is talked about and drawn, samples are made. There are a lot of steps to executing a commission. But it’s not how quickly you can get a piece to a client — it’s about getting the right piece to a client.”
Before checking out Zimmerman’s latest creations at R & Company’s new White Street space, or commissioning a unique piece of your own, take a look at a few seminal pieces from throughout his career.