crown CU Home > Libraries Home
Columbia Center for Oral History Portal >

Reminiscences of Marvin Lipofsky : oral history, 1988

Creator: Lipofsky, Marvin, 1938-2016
Project: American craftspeople project.
(see all project interviews)
Phys. Desc. :Transcript: 127 pages Sound recording: 2 sound cassettes
Location: Columbia Center for Oral History
Full CLIO record >>

Biographical Note

Marvin Lipofsky (1938-2016), founder of the studio glass movement, was born on September 1, 1938 in Elgin, Illinois to Henry and Mildred Lipofsky. He grew up in Barrington, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The family owned a department store, Lipofsky's, which was founded by his grandparents, Samuel and Bessie. Lipofsky earned his BFA in industrial design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1962. He completed graduate study at the University of Wisconsin at Madison where he studied under Harvey K. Littleton, earning an MFA in 1964. Lipofsky then accepted a position at the University of California at Berkeley in the decorative arts program and created the glassblowing program. By 1972, Lipofsky joined, on a part-time basis, the California College of Arts and Crafts, where he worked from 1972-1987. In 1967 and 1971 respectively, he organized the Great California Glass Symposium. He also founded the Glass Art Society and Glass Art Society Journal.

Scope and Contents

In this interview with Richard Polsky, Marvin Lipofsky discusses his hometown, family lineage, family business and its development from a mercantile to a department store, and the evolution of his career as an arts educator and artist. Lipofsky highlights the challenges the family faced being Jewish in a small town. He discusses the family's liberal tendencies and the support they provided to the Barrington community, individually and through the family business. Lipofsky discusses his education, involvement in Boy Scouts and affinity for sports, particularly basketball and football. It was through his involvement with the Boy Scouts that Lipofsky found work with various camps during the summer months. He recounts his academic challenges, and how his interest in art developed from an early age. Lipofsky provides details on his experience as an undergraduate, his membership in a fraternity, and his decision to become a school teacher to avoid the Vietnam draft. Additionally, he reminisces about his introduction to the graduate program at the University of Wisconsin, his experience there as a graduate student and Harvey K. Littleton. Lipofsky also recounts how his initial interest working with clay evolved over time to incorporate working with metal, ceramic, and eventually glass where he felt the urge to experiment. He also comments on his philosphy about education.


Access Conditions

Copyright by the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 2016.

Using this collection

Columbia Center for Oral History

Columbia University
535 West 114th Street
801 Butler Library, Box 20
New York, NY 10027
(212) 854-7083


Columbia Center for Oral History