Harvey Kline Littleton (1922 - 2013)

Birth date: 6/14/1922 Death date: 12/13/2013  
Birth location: Corning, New York Death location: Spruce Pine, North Carolina  
Media: Decorative Art , Sculpture Web site:
Comprehensive (file rating) - Major Wisconsin artist file that includes comprehensive documentation on artist's life that can be researched on site at MWA.


Harvey K. Littleton
Born 1922 in Corning, New York

Harvey K. Littleton, the fourth child of Jesse Talbot Littleton, the first physicist to enter the glass industry in Corning, New York. On Saturday afternoons, Harvey was the charge of his father, who would take him to the plant where the foreman would sit him in front of a Bunsen burner to entertain himself with glass tubes and containers.  Dr. Littleton encouraged his son to study the industrial design and machine production of glass.

However, Harvey’s ambition was to take glass off of the factory floor and bring it into the artist’s studio. In 1959, he began to investigate the possibility of glass as a medium. In 1962, with the support of the Toledo Museum of Art, Harvey Littleton successfully created a formula for melting glass at lower temperatures, enabling artistic work with glass to move away from the factory setting into the studio. Returning to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Littleton established the first art glass program in the United States.

Generally acknowledged as “the father of studio glass in American”, Littleton was not always a glass artist. His education began at the University of Michigan where he intended to pursue a career as a physicist, like his father. But he found himself drawn to art classes.

World War II intervened taking Harvey to Italy and Algiers where he observed various design and artistic uses of glass. The GI Bill allowed him the opportunity to study at the Brighton School of Art in England. He returned to the University of Michigan where he transferred to the Art School to complete his Bachelor of Design degree. He began his career as potter, founding the Potter’s Guild in Ann Arbor, Michigan. But his early experiences with glass drew his interest and the need to generate a better income to support his family motivated him to achieve his MFA at the Cranbrook Academy in 1951. Littleton was recruited to the University of Wisconsin – Madison Art School where his research and innovation gave rise to spectacular, globally exhibited glass pieces. In 1976, Littleton retired from his teaching position to focus on printmaking using glass plates, a process he created and dubbed “vitreography”.

In 2004, Harvey Littleton received the Wisconsin Visual Arts Lifetime Achievement Award. Other honors include Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Lifetime Achievement Honoree, Urban Glass, New York, New York, and Lifetime Achievement Award, The Glass Art Society.

Selected One-Person Exhibitions

1984 “Retrospective Exhibition”, Institute of Contemporary Art, Tallahassee, Florida.
1985 “Harvey K. Littleton: A Retrospective Exhibition”, High Museum of Art, Atlanta.
1993 “Harvey K. Littleton: Glasskulpturen/Graphik", Glasmusuem, Frauenau, Germany.
2001 “Harvey K. Littleton: Reflections 1946-1994”, traveling exhibit including Elvehjem Museum of Art, University of  Wisconsin-Madison  

  • Facebook icon
  • Twitter icon
  • Instagram icon
  • Flickr icon
  • Youtube icon
  • E-News icon