Larger Type
Smaller Type

Search Collections

Big Bad Bird

1995 Robert Willson Born: Mertzon, Texas 1912 Died: San Antonio, Texas 2000 molded glass 17 x 17 x 7 in. (43.2 x 43.2 x 17.8 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Margaret Pace Willson 2001.62 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 56A

Luce Center Quote

“The daily early morning walk across deserted San Marco piazza . . . the ride with the other workers, through the canals . . . to Murano, the work before the blazing hot furnaces in the hot weather, the ride home at night well tired and hot . . . it has become the most remembered and loved routine of my life.” Willson, 1981, quoted in Kangas, Robert Willson: Image-Maker, 2001

Luce Center Label

Robert Willson retired from the University of Miami in 1977 and moved back to San Antonio. He continued traveling to Venice during the summers to work in the glass factories of Murano, staying for longer periods of time until 1997, when he moved there permanently. Working with a new group of craftsmen who called themselves Ars Murano, he created large, solid glass sculptures requiring teams of up to ten workers. In Big Bad Bird, Willson’s distinctive stripes of pure color fill the creature’s ominous wings, and its staring red eyes and white beak suggest a fantastic mask. The bird’s looming silhouette evokes a sinister guardian, a figure of protection from whom we must ask permission to pass.



Animal - bird

decorative arts - glass

Crafts - Glass