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Kehlmann, Robert, 1942-



American artist, art critic and author Robert Kehlmann was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1942. He received both a B.A. (Antioch College, 1963) and an M.A. (University of California, Berkeley, 1966) in English literature. Upon graduation, Kehlmann wanted to pursue a career as a fiction writer. It was only in preparation for a year-long European trip that he first began to study the history of art and architecture. From 1969-1970, he and his wife traveled extensively throughout England, Scotland, France, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. Upon return to his home in Berkeley, he signed-up for a drawing class and in 1971 took a course in stained glass making at a local studio.

Inspired by Abstract Expressionism and Bauhaus aesthetics, Kehlmann believes that stained glass art can involve the same sort of visual expression as contemporary painting and sculpture. By using the lead line as a drawn line—instead of simply as structural support—he emphasizes the activity of forms in his works. Although he does not use any stain or paint in his compositions, the term “stained glass” remains the vernacular to describe his glass pieces. Kehlmann was also one of the first advocates of the autonomous or non-architectural glass panel. His panels are never created to function as a window; instead they are meant to be hung on or in front of a wall.

Kehlmann received National Endowment for the Arts grants both for his work in glass (Craftsmen’s Fellowship Grant, 1977) and for his critical writings (Art Critic’s Fellowship Grant, 1978). His essays on contemporary glass have appeared in numerous publications from the United States, Europe and Japan. From 1981 to 1984 he edited the Glass Art Society Journal and served on the Society’s Board of Directors for over a decade. In 1994 he was awarded an Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award from the Glass Art Society. He is also the author of two books: Twentieth Century Stained Glass: A New Definition (1992) and The Inner Light: Sculpture by Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Robert Kehlmann Papers

Identifier: MS-0215
Scope and Contents

This mixed-media collection documents Robert Kehlmann’s career as an glass artist, art critic and author. It is arranged into three series:

(1) Personal Papers, 1961-2019

(2) Artwork, 1973-2010

(3) Collected Materials, 1966-1979, Undated

Dates: 1961-2019