Thomas Glassford

Article Bio Works Projects www
body, ecology, ritual, sexuality
Visual Arts (drawing, installation art, object, painting, sculpture)
America, Central
Mexico City
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May 22, 2003
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From design alienation to post minimalist elegance

Thomas Glassford works mainly in the field of sculpture and installations, whose potential he uses in the wake of pop art, op art, conceptual art and minimal art. In the early 1990s his main theme was the bottle-gourd, which in Mexico is both an everyday object and artefact. In his assemblages its forms and functions offered a wide range of associations to ecology, sexuality and rites. In the last few years Glassford has been using industrial designer products like aluminium profiles and neon tubes as ingredients of his decorative works in the spirit of post minimalism.
In the 1990s Thomas Glassford worked mostly with hollowed-out bottle-gourds as symbolic ready-mades. In many Mexican regions and the southern USA, gourds are used as vessels for fluids and are important everyday objects, but they are also typical artefacts and souvenirs. For many years Thomas Glassford used them “in various ways to make installations, furniture and towering sculpture and saddled them for odd performances... They were fastened to patient horses or in miniature to small parachutes; they bore letters or swung from lighthouses in Cuban harbours... His range of ideas... is inexhaustible, and he has gourds caged behind metal bars or sawn apart then sewn or screwed together again. Grown naturally, they reveal the strangest forms. Sometimes they have tips like penises or are plump like women´s bodies” (Christina Wendenburg, in: http:/, 4.4.1996).

In playing on the gourds´ forms and functions Glassford often made funny assemblages in which they refer to migration, ecology, the human body, sexuality and rites. He also used the gourd for digital manipulations through which it was changed into a prickly or pulsing giant (see for instance “Latex”, Video, 17 sec., 1994). In the last few years Glassford has turned to industrial rather than to natural products. The artist and critic Jusidman wrote about their duo-exhibition in 2001: “For years he used dried gourds to make baroque, sexually suggestive assemblages, incorporating them into ottomans, mirrors, chandeliers, and jewelry. Now the symbolic resonances that drove his earlier production have been superseded by concerns of optical efficacy” (Yishai Jusidman, in: Artforum, February 2002).

Between these two extremes lie surreal erotic assemblages from modern everyday materials like the variations of “Autogol” made of glass fibre, ceramics and email, in which the gourds mutate to balloons with luminous metallic hues, and like the video “Autogol Kiss: Autorretrato” (1995), the loop of a man kissing his double. Other works from this set are “Dingo” (1997) of aluminium, plastic and gourds, “Camillas, hembra y macho” (1997) – a diptych of aluminium rods and fur, “Pogo” (1998) of lacquered wood, feathers and chromed metal, and “Modern Bastard” (2001), a spatial sculpture of onyx and steel. But around the turn of the century there evolved within Glassford´s “strategy for deriving beauty from the tasteless” (Jusidman, ibid) also a tendency to replace scurrilous furniture – a cross between art works and designer sculpture – with simple, optically effective works.

Glassford then used neon tubes, aluminium profiles, plexi-glass or zips as parts of his works, which may vaguely recall Dan Flavin´s or Donald Judd´s but which parody the purism of minimal art in showing a kinship to design and decoration. In Mexico City in 2001 he exhibited his work “Aster 500” in the “Torre de los Vientos” – an architectural sculpture like zikkurate designed by the Uruguayan sculptor Gonzalo Fonseca as part of the “Street of Friendship” on the occasion of the Olympic games - at the same time as “Aster 250” in the Galeria OMR. Each was a lamp in the form of a star, like an exploding aster, whose petals were numerous neon tubes arranged concentrically round a sphere, whose fluorescent light was changed from industrial sobriety into posh festivity. In the group exhibition “Do it” (2001) in the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Glassford again used neon tubes, which in “Palillas chinas” become huge spillikins.

Works like “Raspberry Lime & Blue“ (1999) from “Ice Suite” or “Zip Drip” from “Sherbert Suite” (2001) are made of polypropile or paper surfaces held together by zips, which also function like the lines of a constructivist art work. In a work like “Espejo de nueve tiras oro” (2001), in which strips of aluminium and acryl glass are interwoven in waves, there is a notable likeness to pop art, as in the series “Partituras”. Inspired by garage-doors but also by old examples of painterly geometrical art, Glassford put aluminium profiles upright in series next to one another, creating stripy patterns, whose effect varies according to the fall of light. There are monochrome variations, some of which suggest a whole palette of hues, doing credit to their poetic and musical names.

In the exhibition “Zebra Crossing” (2002) within the festival “MEXartes”, Glassford was represented by “Acapulco Gold” made of melamine plates and eloxised aluminium, and by a work from the score-series “Partitura azul/Blue Score: What is about the Volume of a Drop” of eloxised aluminium (both 2002). Thomas Glassford uses everyday urban building-materials like “aluminium shells which, on being put into series, generate subtle effects, small changes in gloss and hue, which reveal a refined sensibility yet have a frosty and impersonal effect” (Eduardo Abaroa in the catalogue p. 23). He juxtaposes them to make a big picture or uses them as basic materials for abstract sculpture. In both cases he shows impure relationships to constructive, concrete and minimalist trends. “Thomas Glassford´s assemblages of architectonic details achieve a change of spatial development and appear as objects of desire” (Magalí Arriola in the catalogue, p. 11).
Author: Michael Nungesser


Thomas Glassford was born on 5th March 1963 in Laredo in Texas where he grew up in a bilingual home, speaking English and Spanish. He soon grew personally familiar with the situation along the border between the USA and Mexico, both historical and cultural. Till 1987 he studied in Austin at the University of Texas, then in the early 1990s moved to Mexico. His works are to be found in notable collections like the Colección Jumex, the Colección de Arte Contemporáneo of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and in the Colección del Centro Cultural Arte Contemporáneo, all in Mexico City, and in the Museo Extremeño e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporáneo in Spanish Badajoz. Thomas Glassford lives and works in Mexico City.



Published Written,
Magalí Ariola, Así está la cosa. Instalación y arte objeto en America Latina, in: Art Nexus (Bogotá), Nr. 26, Oktober-Dezember 1997 Kurt Hollander, Corssover Dreams, in: Art in America (New York), Nr. 6, Mai 1998, S.47-51 Roger Welch, Glassford’s Zippy Artwork Displayed at Sala Diaz, in: San Antonio Express News, 16.7.1998 Victor Zamudio Taylor, Talleres, Casa Lamm, México, D.F., in: Arte en Colombia (Bogotá), Nr. 78, April-Juni 1999, S. 111-112 James Oles, Thomas Glassford, in: Poliéster (México, D.F.), Nr. 26, Herbst 1999, S. 40-45 Blanca González, El desencanto del erotismo, in: Proceso (México, D.F.), Nr. 1227, 7.5.2000, S. 88-89 José Miguel Marinas, The Foundation of the Mirror, in: EXIT (Madrid), Nr. 0, November 2000, S.126-136 Eduardo Pérez Soler, Reflexión, irónico, posrelacional, in : Lápiz (Madrid) Nr. 173, 2001, S. 24-33 Teresa del Conde, Thomas Glassford, in: La Jornada (México, D.F.), 14.8.2001 Ady Carrión, Thomas Glassford, in: Arte y Parte (Santander), Nr. 34, 2001, S. 148 Francisco Rivero Lake, Thomas Glassford, Galería OMR, in: Art Nexus (Bogotá), Januar-März 2002 Anne Huffschmid, Aquarium mit Aussicht, in: taz (Berlin), Nr. 6658, 24.1.2002, S. 15 Yishai Jusidman, Thomas Glassford, Torre de los Vientos, Galería OMR, in: Art Forum International, Februar 2002 Cuauhtémoc Medina, Torrente circulatorio (“Ojo Breve”), in: Reforma (México, D.F.), 27.2.2002, S. 2c Robert L. Pincus, Reverberations and Echoes. Glassford’s works for the wall are of a different stripe, in: San Diego Union-Tribune, 18.4.2002 Proya Bhatnagar / Sanuele Menin / Michele Robecchi, Focus Mexico, in: Flash Art (Mailand), Juli-September 2002, S. 86-89 Christina Tilmann, Kunstwerk Körper. Reiz der Grausamkeit: Mit zwei Ausstellungen eröffnet das Berliner Mexiko-Festival, in: Der Tagesspiegel (Berlin), Nr. 17889, 19.9.2002 Heinz Peter Schwerfel, Kriminell, pathetisch. Kunst aus Mexico City in Berlin: Internationalisiert und verwestlicht, aber mit gesteigerter Radikalität, in: Die Zeit (Hamburg), Nr. 40, 26.9.2002, S. 48 Santiago Espinosa de los Monteros, ES2002, in: Art Nexus (Bogotá), Nr. 46, Winter 2002, S. 124-125 Christina Wendenburg, Thomas Glassford. Reell und virtuell, in: (4.4.1996)

Solo Exhibitions (Choice)

Exhibition / Installation
2004 "Thomas Glassford”, Finesilver Gallery, San Antonio, USA "Pleasure Garden“, Galeria OMR, Mexico City, Mexico "Desdoblamientos“, Galeria Principal de la Escuela de Artes, Toluca, Mexico 2003 "Event Horizon“, Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City, Mexico 2002 "Stripes and solids“, Quint Gallery, La Jolla, USA "Fuente / Exposición Agua – Water“, Templo de San Agustin, Mexico City, Mexico 2001 "Desire“, Galeria OMR, Mexico City, Mexico "ASTER“, La Torre de los Vientos, Mexico City, Mexico 2000 "Fuente Parabólica“, Museo de la Alhóndiga, Guanajuato, Mexico 1998 "Neoprene Dreams“, Sala Diaz, San Antonio, USA 1997 "Diversiones“, Galeria de Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico 1996 "Autogol: Oaxaca“, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Oaxaca, Mexico "Nueva York”, Milagros Contemporary Art, San Antonio, USA "The Privilege to Contemplate the Theories of Black Holes”, ExpoArte’98, Guadalajara, Mexico 1995 "Autogol“, Museo de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico 1994 "Autogol“, Ex-Convento del Carmen, Guadalajara, Mexico 1993 "Natural Acts“, Moody Gallery, Houston, USA 1992 "Arteria“, Curare: Espacio Critico para las Artes, Mexico City, Mexico 1991 "Laredo“, Laredo Junior College Art Gallery, Laredo, USA "Hidráulicos y Mecánicos”, N. No. 0 Gallery, Dallas, USA 1990 "Obra Nueva“, Estudio Lic. Verdad, Mexico City, Mexico 1986 "Drawings and Wall Pieces“, Flood Gallery, Austin, USA

Group Exhibitions (Choice)

Exhibition / Installation
2005 "inSITE 2005”, inSITE, San Diego, USA "Barrocos y Neobarrocos“, Domus Artium 2002, Salamanca, Spain "Erotic”, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, São Paulo, Brazil "Exposición itinerante”, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil "Art 36 Basel”, Stand Galeria OMR, Basel, Switzerland "I´m he as you are he as you are me as we are all together”, Central de Arte, Guadalajara, Mexico "MACO”, Stand Galeria OMR, Mexico City, Mexico "Eco. Arte Mexicano Contemporáneo“, Museso Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain "Contiene Glutamato”, Galeria OMR, Mexico City, Mexico 2004 "MACO. Mexiko Arte Contemporáneo“, Stand Galeria OMR, Mexico City, Mexico "Multitasquin”, Galeria OMR, Mexico City, Mexico "Made in Mexico”, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, USA 2003 "Construccion”, Julie Saul Gallery, New York, USA "Mexiko, Identidad y Ruptura”, Fundación Telefónica, Madrid, Spain "Upwards”, Haggerty Gallery, Dallas, USA 2002 "Sensitive Negotiations“, Consulado de Mexiko, Miami, USA "Zebra Crossing”, Mexartes Festival, House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany "Un lugar en otro lugar”, Centro Cultural de Mexiko, Paris, France 2001 "Do It“, Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City, Mexico "Operativo”, Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico "Phoenix Triennial”, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, USA "La Persistencia de la Imagen”, Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City, Mexico "Mutations, La video mexicaine actuelle”, Palais des Arts, Toulouse, France 2000 "Territorios Abstractos”, Museo del Chopo Mexiko, Mexico City, Mexico "Erógena”, Museo Carrillo Gil, Mexico City, Mexico 1999 "FIAC 99”, Stand Galeria OMR, Paris, France "Colección López Rocha”, Museo Carrillo Gil, Mexico City, Mexico "Fluid”, Bard College Annandale on Hudson, New York, USA "Yo y mi circunstancia”, Museé de Beaux Arts, Montreal, Canada 1998 "Hiper“, Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City, Mexico "Chromaform”, UTSA Art Gallery, San Antonio, USA "Longitud de Onda”, Museo Alejandro Otero, Caracas, Venezuela 1997 "Nuestro ideal de la perfección es tan imperfecto”, Ramapo College Art Gallery, Mahwah, USA "Asi Está la Cosa, Instalación y Arte Objeto en Latino America”, Centro Cultural Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico "Hecho in Mexico”, Museo de las Artes, Guadalajara, Mexico "Memory Frames”, Austin Museum of Art, Austin Texas, USA "Zona Vedada”, Sexta Bienal de la Havana, Havana, Cuba 1996 "Masculine Measures“, John Michael Kohler Art Center, Sheboygan, USA 1995 "Juntos y Revueltos”, Hospicio Cabañas, Guadalajara, Mexico "Es Mi Vida, Voy a Cambiar al Mundo”, Acme Gallery, Los Angeles, USA "Colección”, Museo Extremeño e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporáneo, Bajadoz, Spain "No Soy Puto”, Galeria Rubén Gallo, Mexico City, Mexico 1993 "Texas Entre dos Mundos”, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, USA "Objeto/Sujeto”, Museo de la Alhóndiga de Granaditas, Guanajuato, Mexico "Fat”, Foster Freeman Gallery, San Antonio, USA "Lesa Natura”, Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, Mexico "La Frontera/The Border”, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, USA 1992 "Rueda: Como Naturalezza”, Hospicio Cabañas, Guadalajara, Mexico 1991 "Profiles I: The Land“, Arlington Museum of Art, Arlington, USA "D. F. Art from Mexico City”, Blue Star Art Space, San Antonio, USA "Nuevas Adquisiciones”, Centro Cultural/Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico "Marcas”, Galeria Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, Mexico "Material as Message”, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA 1990 "Triangle“, Blue Collar Gallery, San Antonio, USA "Light Well: Site Specific Installation”, Mariposa Park, Corpus Christi, Texas, USA 1986 "Dias Muertos“, Blue Star Art Space, San Antonio, USA "SAMA Open“, San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, USA


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the partner institutions.

The Mexico-festival in Berlin

(15 September 02 - 01 December 02)


Web page of the Mexican gallery OMR

Web page of the Mexican gallery OMR in Spanish and English with a list of exhibitions/biography of the artist