VRIJ GLAS is a relatively new movement in the arts. Sybren Valkema, one of the founders wrote: Independent or free glass, is made by the artist in a studio environment.
1955 Sybren Valkema foresees the possibilities for artists to work independently with glass through the use of small mobile furnaces.
1964 As the envoy of the Dutch Ministry of Culture at the first World Crafts Council meeting in New York Sybren Valkema recognizes the mobile furnace, designed by Domique Labino and brought to the WCC by Harvey Littleton.
1965 First glass furnace at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam is at the same time the first glass furnace at an art academy in Europe ever. See picture below. The first bubble was blown on 11 December 1965.
1966 Asa Brandt was the first glass student at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. Sybren Valkema is head of the program and acting director of the school. Numerous students from all over the world would soon follow.
1969 To show the new possibilities of working with glass to a wider audience Sybren Valkema organizes together with Bernadine de Neeve, curator of Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, ‘Vrij Glas’ a traveling exhibition. Work by the pioneers Harvey Littleton, Marvin Lipofsky, Erwin Eisch en Sam Herman is shown in the Nationaal Glasmuseum Leerdam, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, Groninger Museum and Gemeentemuseum Arnhem. Vrij Glas is to become a worldwide movement, in English today commonly known as Studio Glass.
A short summery of the activities of Durk Valkema, Annelies van der Vorm and Anna Carlgren who paved the road for the VRIJ GLAS Foundation:
1986 "Amsterdam Chamber Symposium" in cooperation with Gallery Rob van den Doel. Artists live and work together for a period. The results are shown in an exhibition and the process is documented in a catalogue. Anna Carlgren is the organizer.
1989-91 Durk Valkema made the Chinese Wall in glass for the exhibition "The Lovers" by Uwe Ulay and Marina Abramovic. The exhibition opened in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and later traveled to Museum van Hedendagse Kunst Antwerpen, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Musee d'Art Moderne - Centre George Pompidou Paris, Moderna Museet Stockholm, Louisiana Museum Humblebaek DK, Musée d'Art Contemporain Montreal Canada.
1994-96 Durk Valkema is interim manager of the crystal production at Royal Leerdam, responsible for improving the crystal production and developed different new crystal formulas.
1995-2004 Anna Carlgren is free-lance designer Royal Leerdam hand-production, enjoys the close cooperation with the workers and through her innovative approach explores new techniques.
1996 Supplied 196 lenses for the fountain by Peter Struycken on Spuiplein Den Haag.
1997 For the international Drinking Glass Event in Leerdam we placed an entire glass studio in the center of the town and invited glassblowers from all over the world to come to Leerdam and work with us. The unique formula consisted of total freedom to practice and master new skills in order to advance. More than 60.000 paying visitors counted in 3 months.
1997-98 Advised Studio Daniel Libeskind on the use of glass for the new wing of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and made fractal tests for him.
1998 Made replica Berlage A-prismatic sheet glass for the restoration of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.
1999-02 Plans for an international glass conference in Amsterdam evolve.
2002 The GAS conference "Sources of Inspiration" with 1400 delegates from 40 countries is held in Felix Meritis in Amsterdam. A temporary studio for blowing glass is placed on barges in the canal Keizersgracht. Annelies van der VORM ruled the executive organization together with Arnoud Odding, organizer of Eternally Yours and today director of the glass museum in Leerdam.
2002 To honor the work of Sybren Valkema who inspired so many of us, we, Durk Valkema, Annelies van der Vorm and Anna Carlgren, decided to create a foundation for VRIJ GLAS.
2003-04 Anna Carlgren is artist-in-residence in Paris, works for IASPIS International Artists’ Studio Program in Sweden as a consultant and formulates plans for the foundation.
2005 ‘Hembrug’ a mix of industrial heritage and fairytale beauty is to be the future for VRIJ GLAS. 11 December 2005: First bubble!
We would like to thank Job Cohen Mayor of Amsterdam and Paul van den Ham account manager gemeente Zaanstad for their aid and indefatigable support during our quest for a suitable space.
2006 First artists at VRIJ GLAS.