Notice of Upcoming Content and Access Change

The Museum is working on the future of our online collections access. A new version will be available later in 2023. During this transition period, the current version of the Collections Browser may have reduced functionality and data may be not be updated. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. For any questions or concerns, please contact us.

What is AAT?

The Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) (r) is a structured vocabulary for generic concepts related to art and architecture. It was developed by The Getty Research Institute to help research institutions become consistent in the terminology they use.Learn More

Object Name: 
Accession Number: 
Overall H: 177.8 cm, W: 62.9 cm, D: 45.1 cm
On Display
Web Description: 
Richard Whiteley’s sculptures are hybrids of the expected and the unexpected: there is geometry and abstraction, but there are also elements of nature. The metaphysical undercurrent in his work relates it to the dramatic geometric cast glass sculptures of the Czech artists Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová. But his forms—the result of years of experimentation and development—are distinctive and unique. Soma, from the Greek word meaning “body,” represents relationships that may be interpreted as theoretical, physical, or spiritual. Since 2002, Whiteley has been the head of the internationally recognized glass program at the School of Art of the Australian National University in Canberra. A graduate of the School of Art, he came to the United States for his graduate studies in glass at the University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign. Whiteley’s early training in stained glass inspired him to become involved in glass sculpture, and this training is reflected in his ability to modulate light and color within the architectonic structures of his sculptures, which are monumental and complex in their layering, folding, and wrapping. Whiteley’s works in glass have a strong sense of presence, artistic authority, and a unity of concept and material. “The works are built from the inside out,” he says. “Voids are ordered first and external structures are built to encapsulate those spaces. The works explore space, using glass as a substrate activated by light.” Soma, which represents a special achievement for the artist in terms of its scale, is the largest work that Whiteley has attempted to date. Signed “R.WHITELEY” on front lower left edge of sculpture. Published in Tina Oldknow and Dan Klein, Richard Whiteley, Canberra, ACT, Australia: R. Whiteley, 2009, pp. 20–21.
Bullseye Connection Gallery (1999-2015), Source
Etched front lower left edge
Primary Description: 
Sculpture, "Soma". Colorless and green glasses; kiln-cast, cut, ground, polished; steel base. Abstract, geometric sculpture consisting of a two-part vertical rectangular structure with a green glass section on top, comprising about 1/3 of the sculpture’s height, and a colorless glass section below, comprising about 2/3 of the sculpture’s height. The center middle portion of each section is significantly thicker than the glass on either side of it, creating a columnar axis. Within this column, the top (green) section is pierced by a circle, and the bottom (colorless) section is pierced by a long oval, which allows light to penetrate into and through the sculpture. The sculpture stands on a thin oxidized rectangular steel base.
CA+D Reopening 2020
Corning Museum of Glass
2020 refresh of the Contemporary Art and Design galleries after the deinstallation of the 2019 temporary exhibition, "New Glass Now".
The Corning Museum of Glass Annual Report 2010 (2011) illustrated, p. 37; BIB# AI90243
The Corning Museum of Glass: Notable Acquisitions 2010 (2011) illustrated, p. 63, #44; BIB# AI86878
The Gather (2011) illustrated, p. 8;
Contemporary Gallery Reinstalled (2011) illustrated, p. 8, right; BIB# AI88808
Recent Important Acquisitions (New Glass Review 32) (2011) illustrated, p. 125, top; BIB# AI95695
Richard Whiteley (2009) pp. 20-21; BIB# 112561