The Passing of Klaus Moje: Outlier, Innovator, Kilnworking Pioneer
Klaus Moje’s development and mastery of kiln forming processes resulted in his reputation as one of the most innovative artists and sought after instructors in the world. Moje passed away in Canberra in September 2016, just two weeks short of his 80th birthday. Considered the founding father of the contemporary Australian glass movement, Moje was born in Germany, where he began his lifelong exploration of glass in the early 1950s as a glass cutter and grinder at the Moje family workshop in Hamburg. During the 1960s and 1970s, he explored the expressive potential of glass as an art form and began exhibiting internationally.
Moje was teaching a workshop at Pilchuck in 1979 when Boyce Lundstrom, one of his students and a founding partner of Bullseye Glass Company, invited him to see the Bullseye factory and meet his partner, Dan Schwoerer. Bullseye was already working toward developing compatible glass but was fully committed to the project only after meeting Moje and seeing his promising work. Recognizing the limitations of the materials he was using, the Bullseye team promised Moje they would deliver him compatible glasses that would solve his problems. In 1981, a crate of the world’s first glasses specially formulated for working in a kiln arrived at his studio in Hamburg.
In 1982, Moje became the founding head of the Canberra School of Art glass workshop, while continuing to teach regularly at Pilchuck and conducting innumerable workshops worldwide. “Through his work, leadership within education, and advocacy for projects, Klaus has made Australia an international destination for contemporary glass of the highest quality,” wrote Associate Professor Richard Whiteley, current Head of Glass and Convener of Craft & Design at the School of Art, Australian National University (ANU). “His vision for excellence was matched with his distinctively personable approach. We have all grown within the culture he envisioned and realized. Klaus changed what glass could be—how it was taught—and along the way he touched everyone he met. He was an outlier, an innovator, and leader in equal measure.”
Moje’s work is held in more than 50 public collections in Australia and abroad, and he has been the recipient of many significant awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award from both the Glass Art Society (2000) and UrbanGlass in New York (2004). He was also awarded the Order of Australia (2006) and named a Living Treasure: Masters of Australian Craft during the same year.
The artist’s legacy lives on in the many beautiful kiln formed objects he created and the multitudes of students he influenced around the world. Visit the ANU website for a more in-depth look at his many contributions.
Celebrating Moje’s impact on art and life,
Klaus Moje, Kristie Rea, and Scott Chaseling, Niijima 10/99-B1, Bullseye Glass Company, Canberra, Australia, 1999. 14th Rakow Commission. 99.6.8.
Photo courtesy of Corning Museum of Glass.
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