Big Bad Bird

  • Robert Willson, Big Bad Bird, 1995, molded glass, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Margaret Pace Willson, 2001.62

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.

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

Big Bad Bird
17177 in. ( cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Margaret Pace Willson

Mediums Description
molded glass
  • Abstract
  • Animal – bird
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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