Toledo Museum of Art Acquires Stunning Fred Wilson Mirror to Collection

TOLEDO, OH.- The Toledo Museum of Art has purchased the dramatic work in glass entitled Iago’s Mirror by artist Fred Wilson. The large, ornate work in black Murano glass has been installed in Gallery 5 of the Glass Pavilion®.

“Fred Wilson is an important artist whose work crosses boundaries between the glass world and contemporary art,” said TMA Director Brian Kennedy. “One of the Museum’s goals is to acquire works of art of singular merit by distinguished living artists. Iago’s Mirror is a perfect fit within our comprehensive glass collection.”

Wilson was born in the Bronx, New York in 1954. He received a BFA from SUNY/Purchase where he was the only african american student in his program. A conceptual artist with a focus on social justice, he returns, with this object, to a common thread within his work: a meditation on themes in Shakespeare’s Othello. Iago is the jealous villain of the story who sets about destroying his “friend” Othello, a black man, through the deliberate sowing of jealousy and suspicion that his wife is unfaithful. When Iago looks in the mirror, all he sees is blackness—in this case, the blackness of his own soul.

Wilson was introduced to glass as a medium in 2001 during a residency at the Pilchuck Glass School. In 2009 he worked with Berengo Studios in Venice to develop a process for layering mirrors together while preserving the intricate details of a traditional 18th-century Murano mirror. To create the dark reflection cast by Iago’s Mirror, the back side is colored black rather than silver. Black glass is the most difficult to create and always has a colored hue, here a deep purple.

While he has always been interested in big concepts, Wilson remains fascinated by the way beauty functions in art and society. This accounts for some of the strong appeal of glass as a medium for his work.

He has said of the piece, “I like the fact that it is beautiful yet not comforting.” “Iago’s Mirror ties in beautifully with the Museum’s glass collection,” said Jutta Page, curator of glass and decorative arts. “Glass mirrors are an important aspect of luxury glass production since the Renaissance, and Venetian mirrors especially—which had to be imported and were precarious to ship due to their size—were and still are the epitome of such luxury home furnishings.”

Fred Wilson was named a MacArthur “Genius” fellow in 1999, and is currently the Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Object, Exhibition, and Knowledge at Skidmore College where he received an honorary doctorate degree. He received the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture in 1987 and 1991, and the Larry Aldrich Foundation Award (2003). Wilson represented the United States at the Biennial Cairo (1992) and twice at the Venice Biennale (2003 and 2009). It was there that Iago’s Mirror was unveiled, the first in a proposed series of six. His work can be found in numerous public collections. He is represented by the Pace Gallery in New York.

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