Empire of Glass by John D'Agostino Empire of Glass illuminates the Abstract Sublime in photographs of the forgotten fragments of the luscious stained glass of Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933). The photographs are presented as pigment prints on stretched canvas with floating frame, in editions of 60x50” and 30x24.” The wilderness of biomorphic forms and swaths of color evoke the basic rhythms of the natural world, and their relationship to inner states of mind. My family’s love affair with Tiffany glass spans 3 generations. I photograph broken fragments of antique stained glass that my grandfather, Vito D’Agostino (1898-1968), rescued in 1933 during the liquidation of Tiffany Studios, when workmen smashed huge sheets of glass and threw them into the East River. During the age of Art Nouveau (1890-1914), Tiffany was world renowned as America’s foremost artist and designer, but by the Great Depression, his work was derided as passé, and incredibly, relegated to the trash heap. I photograph the raw material Tiffany used to create his prized stained glass windows: favrile glass. Its backside is coated with gold and silver foil-leaf, intended as a light reflectant for a mosaic never to be. Wrapped in encrusted newspaper and buried under debris for the past 75 years, the layers of detritus on the surface of the glass have decomposed into wonderful biomorphic forms. The ravages of time marked on the surface of the glass combine with layers of color underneath. This creates a dialogue between past and present: between Tiffany’s original use of favrile glass 100 years ago, and my re-interpretation of it today, in which the methods of collage and improvisation – borrowed from abstract painting - are essential. Art historian Robert Koch once said that Art Nouveau was the 1st stage in the development of modern art, and that Louis Comfort Tiffany was the grandfather of Abstract Expressionism. My family history details this grand narrative: my father, John E. D’Agostino (b.1941), inspired by Tiffany glass, became an Abstract Expressionist painter. Organic form, controlled accident, and abstraction - are my heritage. The Abstract Sublime was coined in 1961 by historian Robert Rosenblum to describe the origins of abstraction as a continuation of the sacred realms of the Romantic landscape of the 19th Century, from Caspar David Friedrich to Mark Rothko. Robert Hughes of Time saw this transcendental sublime as the hidden umbilical cord of American art, from the luminous expanses of Frederick E. Church, to the pictorial hymns of Jackson Pollock. Despite differences of period dress, space is boundless, light is mystical, and color has the uncanny power to render basic psychological ideas. The choice to veil my imagery is born out of a tradition of transcendental ambition. The existential imperative of the Abstract Sublime seeks to render supernatural content found in the remains of natural phenomena, and to discover sacred symbols in secular guise. These relics from the past illumine the polarities of decaying and becoming. They are artifacts of a joyous synthesis: between light and dark, microcosm and macrocosm, death and rebirth.