Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Sorting and packing continues here at FinderMaker manor, and I've just unearthed some more items that were inspired by a recently deceased and very influential artist.
Many years ago I was flipping through a coffee table book featuring interior photographs of several famous artist's homes, and something I saw in a photograph of German artist Sigmar Polke's home caught my attention. It was a tray loaded with oddly-colored glass objects that a caption identified as belonging to Polke's collection of "canary glass".
I did some research on canary glass, and found that it is a term sometimes used to describe glassware that has been pigmented with depleted uranium oxide; other commonly used terms include "uranium glass" and "vaseline glass". The uranium pigment, though mostly depleted of it's radioactivity, remains somewhat radioactive, and reacts with ultraviolet light in such a way that it has a barely perceptible luminous quality in normal light, and positively glows a bright yellow-green under a strong u.v. or "black" light.
Sigmar Polke was something of a modern day alchemist, incorporating unusual materials (fruit and vegetable juices, silver oxide and other reactive chemicals, crushed meteorites...), into his paintings, and even did a photographic series in which sensitized plates were exposed to the emissions of radioactive minerals. I became quite fascinated by that collection of strange radioactive glass, and soon began to notice pieces at estate sales and antique stores. If a piece was cheap enough, I bought it, and eventually amassed a decent collection of the stuff. Sadly, my collection suffered a great blow when, in preparation for our move from Oakland to Los Angeles, part of my uranium glass display case came loose and allowed about a third of my collection to spill out onto the floor and shatter.
Here are some pieces from the collection that have been wrapped up and stored away for several years. I will wrap them back up now, and perhaps they will be stored away for several more.
Sigmar Polke passed away on June 10th at the age of 69. Thank you for sparking my interest in that glowing green glass, Mr. Polke.
If anyone happens to know anything about that book, i'd love to know the title and author so I can look it up-- I haven't been able to locate it.