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Barry R. Sautner

Barry Sautner"I have always been impressed by the magnificence and beauty of Nature, and my admiration for her is often reflected in my work, and has served as an inspiration for me. I am also captivated by the duality of life, and Man's perpetual struggle with himself, with others, and with his belief and conception of God: Good and Evil, Freedom and Enslavement, Knowledge and Ignorance, Action and Inertia, Acceptance and Rejection, Hope and Despair, Love and Fear, Life and Death. I am inspired by Man's resilience, and his battle not only to survive, but to transcend himself."

Barry R. Sautner has been carving and experimenting with glass since 1979, and has since created a variety of astoundingly intricate carvings and sculptures. It has been noted that his three dimensional approach to glass carving is rivaled by none, and results in such strikingly crisp detail that most other carving appears nearly flat by comparison.

Barry states that "Glass has always been my canvas and my voice. In my carvings I attempt to express my innermost feelings which are very difficult for me to express in words." Major themes in his work have included, but are not limited to: the environment, beauty and, nature, mythology, man as a spiritual being, and man's struggle with himself and his deepest emotions.

Drawing on the Roman tradition of cameo carving later revived by the English in the late 19th Century, Barry has attempted to bring the past into the present and the future by succeeding in taking glass carving beyond its former acknowledged limits.

When creating a new piece, Sautner enjoys transforming the vessel-blank itself, incorporating it into the very design of each piece. In addition, he creates each sculpture with a great degree of fine detail, hoping to involve and captivate the viewer with the piece and the message contained within it. Barry asks: "I sincerely hope that my art will represent to you something more than simply virtuoso carving. If you look closely at each piece you will see much hidden detail. If you look closer yet you will see its meaning."

Admired around the world, Barry’s work has been displayed at a variety of museums and galleries including The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, The Corning Museum of Glass, The Bergstrom-Mahler Museum as well as the Birks Museum, the Newark Museum, The Museum of American Glass, and the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. His work is also included in many premier private collections in the United States and abroad. Barry was one of two living artists to be shown in “Cameo Glass: Masterpieces from 2,000 Years of Glassmaking” which was sponsored by the Corning Museum of Glass. He has also lectured extensively on cameo and diatreta glass carving at a number of galleries and universities in America, Europe, and Japan.

Awestruck as many have been, by the complex glass cameo technique used in the ancient "Portland Vase," (which dates between the late 1st c. b.c. to the early 1st c. a.d.), Barry Sautner taught himself to decorate cold glass with sandblasting. Borrowing from the Romans' diatreta cups, as well as the refinement of the English cameo makers, Sautner opened Sautner Cameo Studio in 1986; and since has mastered the craft, and evolved its artistic importance.
Barry Sautner's calling as a glass carver began in 1977 when he started blowing glass at Vandermark/Merritt Glass Studios in New Jersey. Blowing glass provided him with the passion, the compulsion to explore glass as a means of artistic expression. In 1979, after an illness forced him out of the sweltering heat in of the furnace room, he found he had artistic visions yet to be fully realized in glass.

"Glass has always been my canvas and my voice. In my carvings, I attempt to express my innermost feelings which are for me, most difficult to express verbally. Major themes in my work have included, but are not limited to, the Environment, Beauty, Nature, Mythology, and the Spiritual Nature of Man as well as man's struggle with himself. I have attempted to bring the past into the present and future by developing methods which challenge me to take glass carving beyond its acknowledged limits. When creating a new piece, I enjoy transforming the vessel-blank itself, incorporating it into the very design of each piece. In addition I create each piece with a great degree of fine detail hoping to involve and captivate the viewer with the piece and the message contained therein. I sincerely hope that my art will represent to the viewer something more than virtuoso carving."

Beginning with shallow surface relief designs, Sautner continued to test the depths of the glass. How much, how far could a carving go? The deeply undercut methods of the Romans, were then catapulted into the modern age, as the artist introduced a sand-blasting method of his own, called insculpture. Using his invention, he could hollow out an interior image in clear glass blanks. This resulted in infrastructures, previously thought to be impossible. But Sautner sees the image inside, and reveals it to be possible. It is a remarkable skill to visualize and create an artwork in three dimensions, and the extractive methods Sautner has made his own, amaze even the most well-versed in glass art techniques. Technique aside however, the complex, personal symbolism of Sautner's artwork seems more daunting. He keeps notebooks, to record dreams at his bedside, thoughts that rush to him at odd moments in the day.

"My work doesn't come from my mind It comes from my heart, my feelings, my emotions. There are many times when I will sit down and just draw then only through finishing it, realize that it is symbolic of what is going on in my life. If you look closely at each piece you will see much hidden detail. If you look closer yet, you will see its meaning."

Sautner's willingness to explore monumental themes: emotions, philosophies, life-transitions, speak to people because his art's scale is approachable and intimate. The proximity of the viewer to the piece creates an exchange on a personal level. Inspired as he is by the delicacy of ancient Roman diatreta, and the demure qualities of cameo carving, one can immediately appreciate Sautner's skill. The complex framework of the works shows balance and sophisticated sculptural sensibilities, but their fragile nature belies their poise. Sautner removes layers, uncovers truths, and carves so deeply into this glass skin, one may see a tremulous heartbeat in each piece.

Barry R. Sautner has been carving and experimenting with glass since 1979, and has created a variety of astoundingly beautiful and intricate carvings.

His three dimensional approach to cameo glass carving results in such striking realism that all that went before appears flat. He has mastered the difficult art of undercutting to the extent of creating a complete diatreta, which consists of an open lattice work design that is completely undercut with the exception of a few posts that keep the design connected to the inner vessel.

Feeling that even these posts detracted from the overall design, Barry took this process a step further and developed a method of carving diatreta which is devoid of any post structure. The diatreta design is connected to the inner vessel by means of leaves, flowers, and the like, creating a homogeneous whole.

Barry's work is best summarized by one art critic:
In sixteen centuries, only a handful of glass artists have been able to reproduce the diatreta of the ancient glass artists. Barry Sautner now stands not only head and shoulders above all the others but in our opinion has also surpassed the ancients in the beauty of his creations. Already Sautner has created more diatreta than all the ancient examples known. Sautner's technical skill and ingenuity combined with his artistic ability, presage much for the future of his art.

Additional information:
On June 30th 2009 Barry Robert Sautner passed away at his home in Vero Beach, Florida from acute bronchial pneumonia.

Barry was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on January 20, 1952.

He began to study glass blowing in 1977 which fostered an amazingly intricate talent that became his life’s work.   His style of glass carving is something that came from a spiritual place and he always put his heart and soul into every piece that he worked on.  His legacy will live on through the glass sculptures and carvings that remain. 

He is survived by:
life partner Brian Smith
daughter Heather Sautner
son Jason Sautner and wife Shari, and two grandsons Colin and Rowan.
twin brother Alfred Sautner, and brothers William Sautner, Craig Sautner, and Mark Sautner.

He will be greatly missed.   

A memorial service is being held for Barry on Saturday, August 29 located at:

Frenchtown Presbyterian Church
Fourth Street
Frenchtown, NJ  08825

All are welcome to join.

Should friends and acquaintances desire, contributions to his arrangements and memorial may be sent to:

Terri Sautner
182 Sergeantsville Road
Flemington, NJ 08822

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