Ned Cantrell graduated from ND. Colchester Institute School of Art and Design (UK), Surrey Institute of Art and Design (UK) and Glass & Ceramics School, Bornholm.
He received the Hempel Glass Award 2018.
Ned has exhibited in galleries and museums all over the world, and regularly teaches glass execution around the world.
Ned Cantrell uses the glass to tell stories from modern life with a socially critical eye, but often also with a whimsical humorous point.
Ned works in an imagery similar to comics, science fiction and pop art, and he often gestalts his stories and messages through naïve animal figures such as in the animal fables.
Blown and hot sculpted glass. Acid etched.
30 x 30 x 20 cm
Blown and hot sculpted glass.
20 x 14 cm
The Devil is in the Details
- Ned Cantrell shatters the limits of glass art
If you look at Ned Cantrell’s glass works in a book or on his web site, they don’t look at all like anything made out of glass. Instead, it seems more as if you’re standing in front of plastic figures from a Disney film, cute little critters from the Pokemon universe, or miniature versions of tacky knickknacks from some store hawking bling.
It’s only when you look at the captions or, better yet, stand physically before the objects that you realize they’re made of glass. It makes a vast difference, for now you can’t help but be surprised by the contradiction between the things’ kitschy spirit and the evident finesse of the artist’s craftsmanship. The works’ hyper-cute surface is thus
counterbalanced by Cantrell’s technical perfectionism and artistic vision.
In this way, he reveals who his art-historical sparring partners are. Pop artists, most of all, for we find in Cantrell’s pieces reminiscences of Andy Warhol’s fascination with the symbols of consumer culture in the form of Coke bottles, McDonalds coffee cups, even the banana on his Velvet Underground album cover – just as we see resemblances, albeit on a much smaller scale, to Claes Oldenburg’s installations of cream cakes, apple cores, ice cream cones, and burgers.
In the same way, Cantrell is inspired by the neo-pop art that Japanese artists such as
Takashi Murakami represent, in which traditional artisanal virtues are combined with the comic strip universe of manga, kokeshi dolls (handmade wooden dolls for children) and Disney’s sanitized and ever-sweetly-smiling figures. To these influences there is added a fascination with the art, jewelry, and design of the Art Nouveau movement. Between the mid-1880s and World War I, practitioners cultivated softly curving lines and arabesques in a style that used nature and organic growth as its chief inspiration.
Cantrell incorporates all these elements in an artistic universe that is completely his own – a universe where you will see rocket-riding babies, plastic cups, cheesy candelabra, McDonalds merchandise, toy figurines, banana peels in the loveliest forms and attitudes, and much, much more – all forming an enormous homage to the delightful mix of great art and low-status objects that he so clearly admires.
In his pieces, Cantrell extends the bounds of what glass art can be. He breaks down the wall between fine art and kitsch, offering instead a wealth of visual fantasy expressed in the most psychedelic fashion. We laugh and are surprised, we’re stirred and stimulated by the colorful and inventive forms he offers us. It is impossible in any event to remain unaffected by Ned Cantrell’s works in glass. And that’s indubitably
the greatest compliment of all.
Tom Jørgensen, art reviewer for Jyllands-Posten and editor of Kunstavisen