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Robert Kehlmann Collection

Identifier: BIB-142494
This mixed-media collection documents Kehlmann’s career as an artist, art critic and author. It includes his research, numerous interviews and correspondence with glass artists, his lectures, art criticism and articles. The bulk of his research materials are on Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová. The collection also includes photographs, video and audio cassettes, slides and transparencies of Kehlmann and his artwork, and of other artists and their work, many with digital duplicates; some images are in digital form only. There are images of, and correspondence about, Kehlmann’s exhibitions, both solo and joint, and documentation of works commissioned and sold. There is also one box of various postcards and brochures Kehlmann collected, and several books and exhibition catalogs by other artists.


  • 1966-2010


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

The Copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement. The user agrees to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the Corning Museum of Glass and the Rakow Research Library against all claims, demands, costs and expenses incurred by copyright infringement or any other legal or regulatory cause of action arising from the use of Library materials.


12 Boxes

12.4 Linear Feet

Biographical / Historical

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, with a focus on allegory in the Romantic poetry of Blake, Coleridge and Keats. 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; Kehlmann was especially drawn to the art and architecture of the Renaissance and Modern periods. 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. He calls his compositions “drawings with lead and glass” and eschews the decorative elements usually associated with stained glass. Kehlmann’s glass panels begin as “charcoal, pastel and acrylic drawings on canvas that point a direction, although parts of the drawings are discarded once he starts cutting and assembling pieces of glass” (“Three Californians in Glass,” 1980, p. 12). 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’s glass compositions have been exhibited in museums and galleries across the world, including: Toledo Museum of Art, Corning Museum of Glass, Hermitage Museum, Hokkaido Museum of Art, Victoria and Albert Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He 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.


Frantz, S.K., & Warmus, W. (1996). Robert Kehlmann: Painting with glass. Moraga, CA: St. Mary’s College of California.

Three Californians in glass. (1980). The Museum of California, 3(7), 10-12.

Waggoner, S. (1993). The content of creation: The work and writings of Robert Kehlmann. Glass Art Magazine, 8(2), 38-42.


The Robert Kehlmann Collection is arranged in 4 series: Series I. Personal Papers, 1958-2009; Series II. Artwork, 1973-2010; Series III. Collected Materials, Various Artists, 1966-1979, undated; and Series IV. Published Works, Various Authors 1975-2000.

Custodial History

Gift of Robert Kehlmann, 2014-2015
Robert Kehlmann Collection, 1966-2010
A Guide to the Collection
Mary Anne Hamblen and Sandra Glascock
May 2016
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the Rakow Manuscript Collections Repository

Rakow Research Library
Corning Museum of Glass
5 Museum Way
Corning NY 14830 USA