A State of Matter: Modern and Contemporary Glass Sculpture

18 February – 5 June 2022

Exhibition in our Main Galleries

To mark the United Nations International Year of Glass 2022, the Henry Moore Institute is delighted to present a major exhibition exploring glass as a material for sculpture.


A State of Matter: Modern and Contemporary Glass Sculpture explores glass through its three different states of matter: solid, liquid and gas. Work from 1965 to the present day is on display by 16 artists including Claire Falkenstein, Mona Hatoum, Luke Jerram, Joseph Kosuth and Hew Locke.

Glass is a mysterious and wonderful thing. Less a material than a state of matter, the heat of the furnace transforms grains of silica into molten lava, which can be stretched, flattened, moulded, blown or cast. When cooled from its molten state, glass takes on the qualities most readily associated with it, becoming transparent, reflective, fragile and ephemeral. Although a number of sculptors specialise in working with glass, A State of Matter: Modern and Contemporary Glass Sculpture also celebrates the skill of the master glassmakers who work in creative and collaborative partnerships with artists, and who make glass perform the most extraordinary feats.

The capacity of glass to take on different surface textures, colours and change its shape and physical state with such abandon means that it is exceptionally difficult to categorise. Unlike stone or wood, there is no essential ‘truth’ to glass as a material, and many long-held assumptions about glass can turn out to be deceptions. Bringing together works by 16 artists, the exhibition celebrates this infinitely variable material, used in imaginative and often subversive ways by a diverse range of artists. 

In memoriam: Erwin Eisch (1927-2022)

We were deeply saddened to learn of the recent death of Erwin Eisch, whose work Tele Komm Komm 027-418 is on display in this exhibition. From the Bavarian town of Frauenau, Erwin Eisch was a pioneering glass artist and leading inspiration behind the establishment and growth of the international Studio Glass movement.

A State of Matter title

About the artists

Learn more about the artists and sculptures in the exhibition with our online guide.

Family activities

Explorer Bags

Families visiting A State of Matter can borrow one of our new free Explorer Bags, filled with tools to look, think and draw as you explore the galleries. The bags contain activities to guide you through the exhibition, looking, thinking, talking and drawing as you go.

The bags are suitable for families with children aged 2-12 years, to be used with adult supervision. Please return your bag to the welcome desk before you leave.

Light Collages

Visit our alcove area to make a light collage inspired by the exhibition. We’ve selected a range of materials and objects for you to draw, build and play with on our new light box, which reflect the qualities of light seen in the sculptures in our galleries. Follow the instructions on the wall and make a glowing collage, then share a photo of your creation with us on social media.


Venue details

Venue address

Henry Moore Institute
The Headrow
United Kingdom
T: 0113 246 7467

Opening times

Galleries: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm

Research Library: Monday to Saturday, 10am - 5pm; Sunday, 1 - 5pm
Archive of Sculptors' Papers: Tuesday to Friday, by prior appointment