Karen LaMonte with Vestige
December 14, 1967 |
New York, New York, US
|Education||Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island|
|Known for||Sculpture, Contemporary Art.|
LaMonte grew up in Manhattan, New York. In 1990, she graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with a Bachelor in Fine Arts with honors. Immediately after college, she was awarded a fellowship at the Creative Glass Center of America, in Millville, New Jersey. Following that, she moved to Brooklyn, New York, and worked at UrbanGlass, a not-for-profit public access glass studio. During this period, she pursued artwork in blown and cast glass, which were exhibited at fine art galleries.
In 1995, LaMonte met Steven Polaner, whom she later married. In 1998, they moved to the Czech Republic, where LaMonte was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to pursue the use of large-scale cast glass in her artwork.
During her Fulbright year, LaMonte began working at glass casting studios in Eastern Bohemia - most famously associated with Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová, an artistic team often credited with the first studio glass sculptures. While here, she developed Vestige, a cast glass life-size sculpture of a dress, which took one year to complete and required the development of special technologies, including the introduction of the lost wax technique to Czech glass casting studios. Vestige was to become a seminal artwork, the beginning of an important body of work with far reaching influence on the field of contemporary art and glass.
LaMonte's exhibition profile, which includes the Czech Museum of Fine Art in Prague, the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, and the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington, as well as her inclusion in the permanent collections of museums such as The Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Renwick Gallery, Washington DC, The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, the Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris, France, and The National Gallery of Australia, Canberra marks her as a major contemporary artist.
Her art deals largely with the central themes of beauty and loss, exploring the fragility of the human condition through a sartorial lens.
Her work has been critically acclaimed and written about by art critics such as Arthur Danto. In his 2005 essay "The Poetry of Meaning and Loss: The Glass Dresses of Karen LaMonte", Danto wrote about Vestige:
The dress belonged to a moment when the wearer was, to use an expression of Proust’s, en fleur. The dress belonged to a certain moment of history, which it preserves—it shows how women dressed for certain occasions at a certain moment. The wearer will have aged. She looked like that then, but, if she is still alive, it is certain she will not look that way now. There is a double melancholy—the melancholy of fashion, and the melancholy of bodily change, from nubility to decrepitude. The breasts have fallen, the waist thickened, the skin has lost it transparency and luminescence. The poignancy of LaMonte’s dresses is a product of two modes of change in which we participate as human beings, composed, as we are, of flesh and meaning. Their poetry is the poetry of beauty and loss.
LaMonte's newest body of work draws inspiration from Japan, exploring the same themes through a different cultural lens.
- Corning Museum of Glass/Kohler Arts Center, Joint Artist-in-Residence Program, 2009
- Jutta Cuny Franz Memorial Award, Laureate, 2007
- Japan-United States Friendship Commission, NEA
- Creative Artists Exchange Fellowship Program, 2006
- The Virginia A. Groot Foundation, Recognition Award, 2005
- UrbanGlass, Award for New Talent in Glass, 2002
- Creative Glass Center of America, Fellowship, 2002 & 1991
- The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, Biennial Award, 2001
- Fulbright Fellowship, Czech Republic, 1999–2000
- Racine Art Museum and RAM’s Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, Racine, Wisconsin
- Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, Wisconsin
- Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia - Dress VIII (2002), Reclining Drapery Impression (2009)
- The Corning Museum, Corning, New York - Specimen IV Sloth (1997), Blue Dress (1998), Evening Dress with Shawl (2004)
- Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas - Dress Impression with Wrinkled Cowl (2007)
- M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, California - Dress 3 (2001)
- Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee - Reclining Dress Impression with Drapery (2006)
- The Museum of American Glass, Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center, Millville, New Jersey
- Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, California - Pianist's Dress Impression (2005) 
- The Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Renwick Gallery, Washington DC - Untitled (2002), Reclining Dress Impression with Drapery (2007)
- The Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio - Dress Impression with Train (2005)
- The Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona - Bottle Clothesline (1995)
- Alexander Tutsek Foundation, Munich, Germany - Lark Mirror (2004), Oval Mirror (2004)
- National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia - Dress 4 (2001)
- Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, France
- 2010 Floating World, Palm Desert, California
- 2010 Réflexions Féminines. Musée-Atelier départemental du Verre, Sars-Poteries, France
- 2010 Drapery Abstractions, Heller Gallery, New York, New York
- 2009 Contemporary Glass Among the Classics. Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia
- 2005 Absence Adorned. Museum of Glass International Center for Contemporary Art, Tacoma, Washington
- 2004 Vanitas. Czech Museum of Fine Art, Prague, Czech Republic
Karen LaMonte Studio
Karen LaMonte Studio is run by her husband, Steven Polaner. He has worked with LaMonte since 2001 managing and assisting LaMonte with her artwork and installations. He accompanies her on research expeditions such as a seven-month Japan/U.S. cultural exchange fellowship in 2007.
- "Karen LaMonte Biography", ImagoGalleries.com, 2010
- "Robin Rice Essays - Karen LaMonte", Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center, March 4, 2008
- Danto, Arthur (2005). "The Poetry of Meaning and Loss: The Glass Dresses of Karen LaMonte" (PDF) (1st ed.). Tacoma, WA: Museum of Glass, International Center for Contemporary Art.
- ChryslerCollection.org, Collections Catalog
- collection.cmog.org, Collections Catalog
- "Reinstallation of Evening Dress with Shawl by Karen LaMonte at The Corning Museum of Glass", CorningMuseumOfGlass, February 11, 2010
- CrystalBridgesMuseum.org, Collections Catalog
- Art Knowledge News, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art presents Portraits & Glass Sculpture, April 2010
- HunterMuseum.org, Collections Catalog, 2008
- PSMuseum.org, Annual Report 2008-2009, pg 15, 2009
- AmericanArt.si.edu Colelctions Catalog, updated 2009
- ATutsek-Stiftung.de, Collections Catalog
- ArtSearch.nga.gov.au, Collections Catalog
- NordMag.fr, Le Musée-Atelier départemental du Verre de Sars-Poteries - Agenda (in French), 2010
- HellerGallery.com, Exhibition Archive, 2010
- Chrysler.org, Exhibition Archive, 2009
- cmvu.cz, Exhibition Archive, 2004
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