A 1999 Fulbright scholarship allowed leading contemporary glass artist Karen LaMonte to transform her work, enabling her to pursue her interest in large-scale casting in the Czech Republic. That is where the best facilities for large-scale glass casting are located, thanks to Czech artists Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtova, who founded the studios that LaMonte uses. During the past decade, LaMonte has used this experience to develop a remarkable series of life-size cast glass dresses.
Reclining Dress Impression with Drapery has roots in the feminist art of the 1960s and 1970s and its critique of fashion, though the focus on gender in this work is almost playful. The frilly straps and a firm hip exaggerate the femininity of a woman conspicuously absent. It is easy to imagine that LaMonte has created a response to the industrial forms crafted by this country’s other great cast glass artist, Howard Ben Tre.
Reclining Dress Impression with Drapery shows the technical virtuosity and sensitivity to material expected in contemporary craft, augmented by LaMonte’s natural ease with history. This piece is part of her glass dress series, which she began in 2000. It is the strongest piece from this series, with its bold drapery and delicate treatment of the female figure. No other work demonstrates with such clarity LaMonte’s grasp of classical style and composition.
Reclining Dress Impression with Drapery
- 19 x 61 x 22 1⁄2 in. (48.3 x 154.9 x 57.2 cm)
© 2009, Karen LaMonte
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Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of the James Renwick Alliance and Colleen and John Kotelly
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