The largest survey exhibition of the work of glass artist Ivo Lill is on show at the Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design



The exhibition “Classics. Ivo Lill”, with more than 150 monumental works by legendary Estonian glass artists is open at the Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design until 26 September.

“If you look at Lill’s work as a whole, you feel like he has discovered the inner code of glass, creating something you would not think possible with each new work.” says the curator of the exhibition, Merike Alber. “His relationship with glass was very personal, he preferred to cooperate with it instead of forcing his will on the material.”

Alber describes Ivo Lille (1953–2019) as a wanderer in Estonian glass art. Lill did not work with functional forms, his interest in visual art led him to create works that are sculptural in nature. The magnitude of Lill’s creative heritage is even difficult to estimate. He made his debut with glass wall tiles in 1985, being the only Estonian glass artist to have made panels.  International success came as early as 1988, at the Nový Bor Glass Symposium, opening the door for him to participate at many exhibitions around the world, as a result of which Lill’s work is now part of the collection of European and American glass museums as well as private collections. In 2013, he was also elected an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Arts. 

The works displayed at the exhibition come from the ETDM collection and the artist’s family, the earliest of which is “Roheline torn” (Green Tower, 1986) and the most recent “Mullid” (Bubbles, 2019).

Ivo Lill’s success is deemed to be based on a deep technical knowledge. Having chosen cold processing techniques to visualise his world in glass, he also inevitably chose the physically difficult and time-consuming work that came with it. The hard work resulted in radiant works of art that refract and reflect light and absorb the viewer’s gaze.

“There is no doubt that he was a craftsman in his field in the best sense of the word, but the inspired results still came from an idea and an artistic vision above all else.” says Alber.

Alongside Lill’s intricate experiments in form, geometry and optical effects, water plays an important roll at the exhibition that opens in the exhibition hall on the ground floor of the Museum of Applied Art and Design.

“I was most inspired by the dynamic nature of light and water, which has no beginning or end, only an eternal journey,” said Ivo Lill in the book Ivo Lill. Cool Glass (2015). “The sound of running water allows me to feel like a small part of the universe and listen to the passage of time. The caprices of the sea, the endless expanse and the relentless rumble make you anxious, the babbling of the river makes you feel safe and the silence of the lake leads you to introspection.”

The exhibition catalogue will be published in March. The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive public programme, about which there is more information on our website

The exhibition series Classics has been held at the museum since 2000. With this series, the museum wishes to highlight the work of artists and designers who have been active over a long period and whose work has been consistently outstanding.

Exhibition curator: Merike Alber
Co-curator and consultant: Irene Lill
Exhibition design: Maret Kukkur
Lighting design: Airi Eras, Teet Orupõld
Exhibition production: Valge Kuup
Graphic design: Stuudio Stuudio
Editor: Hille Saluäär
Translation: Refiner Translations
Photographer: Ülo Josing

Exhibition team at the museum: Kai Lobjakas, Ketli Tiitsar, Toomas Übner, Silvia Pärmann, Helen Adamson

Special thanks: Irene Lill and the artist’s family, Eve Koha, Jüri Kermik, Katrin Josing

Exhibition is supported by: Cultural Endowment of Estonia