The Cold Genius

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Object Name: 
Stained Glass Panel
The Cold Genius
Accession Number: 
Overall H: 76.2 cm; Bottom W: 88.9 cm; Top W: 109.2 cm
On Display
Credit Line: 
Gift of the Ennion Society
Web Description: 
Judith Schaechter is an influential artist and teacher, as well as an international leader in the production of artistic stained glass. Her works are generally displayed, and meant to be understood, as paintings, and not as architectural glass. Much of Schaechter’s work is inspired by music, and The Cold Genius came from her experience of the 17th-century aria “The Cold Song,” as performed by the German singer and musician Klaus Nomi (1944–1983). Nomi was well known in New York’s East Village scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s, a hotbed of development for punk rock, the visual arts, and the avant-garde. His performance of the piece, for which he was made up as a clown, was sung in a high, brittle, and otherworldly countertenor. “The Cold Song” was written for the opera King Arthur (1691) by Henry Purcell (British, 1659–1695), with libretto by the influential poet and dramatist John Dryden (British, 1631–1700). In the opera, a character known as the Cold Genius represents the spirit of winter, who, in the aria, acknowledges the power of love to warm the deepest cold, to thaw Winter itself. In this work, the scene is presented as if on a stage, with curtain-like shadows parting to reveal the Cold Genius, who is “frozen” from the viewer beneath a pane of colorless glass that covers the entire panel. Huddled in a brilliant red, quilted cloak, he lies unmoving on an ice-covered pond. His face conveys the pathos that is the hallmark of Schaechter’s uncomplaining protagonists, who silently experience suffering, loss, and redemption. Signed “J.S. 2009,” along lower edge. For more information, see Alex Baker, Extra Virgin: The Stained Glass of Judith Schaechter, Philadelphia: Free News Projects in collaboration with Lawrence Publications, 2006.
Claire Oliver Gallery, Source
J. S 2009
enameled. bottom right side of glass
Primary Description: 
Stained Glass Panel, "The Cold Genius". Colorless, red, blue, blue-green, orange, gold, and brown cut glass, sandblasted, engraved and painted, assembled with copper foil. The panel is an irregular rectangle, widest at the top and tapering to the bottom. The colored and assembled glass is covered with a sheet of colorless glass to emphasize the winter scene. The window depicts a male figure lying on his side, wearing a red quilted robe, on top of a frozen pond. The pond is surrounded by winter trees, and snowflakes fall in the foreground. The scene is presented as if set on a stage, with diaphanous "curtains" framing the scene.
Transcendent: The Stained-Glass Art of Judith Schaechter
Memorial Art Gallery of The University of Rochester 2020-02-15 through 2020-05-24
The Memorial Art Gallery is organizing a mid-career survey of Judith Schaechter (b. 1961). This will be the first major, multi-venue museum exhibition of an artist whose striking stained-glass panels fuse the medieval with the boldly contemporary. MAG recently acquired Schaechter's most ambitious work to date, "The Battle of Carnival and Lent", and is working directly with the artist. Judith Schaechter has explored and pushed the limits of the stained-glass medium for over 35 years. Her singular, subversive, and masterful approach has altered the landscape of contemporary American art. "Transcendent" will provide the first in-depth scholarly assessment of the artist's critical contributions to the history and intersection of contemporary art, stained glass, and craft. Schaechter's genius lies in her unorthodox application of the centuries-old craft tradition of stained glass, most often associated with the glowing saints and stories of Christianity. With a sharp wit and unyielding focus, Schaechter redefines the medium by sand-blasting, filing, engraving, and painting her unruly modern women onto multiple layers of colorful flash glass. She embraces the inherent contradictions of her work, gleefully melding the opposing currents of high and low, beauty and gore, sacred and profane, and transcendence and defeat. Dark narratives feature her favorite subjects, "sex and death, with romance and violence the obvious runners up". With influences as wide ranging as pulp fiction covers, neuroscience, Northern Renaissance masters, MAD Magazine, philosophy, Greek mythology, and medieval manuscripts, Schaechter's working process is equally diverse, incorporating intensive doodling, Photoshop acrobatics, and her grueling, meticulous, and commanding manipulation of glass. "Transcendent" comprises approximately 45 stained-glass panels, 20 drawings, sketch-books, and glass-making materials. The checklist draws from public and private collections. This selection provides an overview of Schaechter's art at mid-career with her in work in museums around the world, including, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Victoria and Albert Museum. Heritage Museum, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Museum of Art and Design, and Corning Museum of Glass.
The Corning Museum of Glass: Notable Acquisitions 2010 (2011) illustrated, p. 65, #46; BIB# AI86878
The Corning Museum of Glass Annual Report 2010 (2011) illustrated, p. 2; BIB# AI90243
The Gather (2011) illustrated, p. 16;
Recent Acquisitions: Modern Glass (2011) illustrated, p. 16; BIB# AI88816
Recent Important Acquisitions (New Glass Review 32) (2011) illustrated, p. 121, middle; BIB# AI95695