Ruba Rombic at Moderne Gallery

Major Show of Rare Art Deco Glassware Opens in Philadelphia on September 11, 1992


Preview Party Benefits “Collab” for Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia, PA (September 1992)

“Ruba Rombic at Moderne Gallery,” the first major show and sale of Ruba Rombic are glassware since it was presented by Consolidated Lamp and Glass Company in 1928-32 as “An Epic in Modern Art,” will be held at Moderne Gallery in Philadelphia from September 11 to October 24, 1992.

“Ruba Rombic at Moderne Gallery” will present the largest variety of Ruba Rombic displayed in any one place since it was introduced in 1928. Nearly 400 pieces of this strikingly beautiful, geometric, highly original and rare American Art Deco glassware from the comprehensive Kiley Collection have been assembled by Robert Aibel, owner of the Moderne gallery, for this benchmark show.

Ruba Rombic is the crowning achievement of the prolific career of the extraordinary American glass designer Reuben Haley (1872-1933) and the very essence of Art Deco/Art Moderne. Curves have given way to Cubist planes, bringing out the interplay of light and shadows through geometric shapes. Colorful and angular, the Ruba line includes vases, pitchers and tumblers, cocktail glasses, serving pieces, a complete dining service, glass boxes, candlesticks and other decorative items.

The stunning art glass is aptly named: Ruba Rombic comes from the “Rubaiy” (meaning an epic or poem) and from “Rhomboid” (meaning irregular in shape, with no parallel lines).

To present Ruba Rombic in the context of its period and style, the Moderne exhibit will include pieces of Muncie pottery designed by Reuben Haley, examples of angular glass by other designers, and a sample of the only known reproduction of Ruba Rombic, a recently produced vase.

The exhibition and sale at Moderne has emerged from the long-standing association of Aibel with collectors Kevin and Barbara Kiley, who have one of the largest collections of Ruba Rombic in the world.

All Ruba Rombic pieces are considered rarities, since production was extremely limited. By 1929 the Depression was in full force, and by 1932 Consolidated Glass Company ceased all production.

Ruba Rombic has been sought after by collectors since it was first introduced by Consolidated Glass as the “jewelry” of its art glassware division. The advertising campaign announcing the line called it “An Epic in Modern Art.” Admirers called it “a poem in glass.” It created a sensation at the 1928 Pittsburgh glass show where it debuted in its own room, displayed against a backdrop of antique golden walls with geometric apple green parallelograms.

Haley’s “new glassware style” was “shocking” in its time, yet immediately successful. Contemporary reviewers found the strong triangular and rhomboidal planes and originality of the glass extremely appealing. They admired the pieces as “true specimens of Cubist art” and raved about the new colors — jungle, jade, lilac, sunshine, smokey topaz and silver cloud — as well as the shapes.

Selected pieces of Ruba Rombic have been shown in museum exhibitions, including the Brooklyn Museum’s “Machine Age in America” traveling exhibit (1987), the Renwick Gallery (Smithsonian Institution)’s traveling exhibit “American Art Deco” (1987-88), and in a few galleries. The Corning Museum of Glass has several pieces in its permanent collection.

Moderne will host a Preview Party on Friday evening, September 11 as a benefit for COLLAB, the non-profit contemporary design group that assists the Philadelphia Museum of Art in acquiring 20th century decorative arts.

Composed of representatives of professional design organizations and invited members, COLLAB has helped the Art Museum’s collection grow to hundreds of objects. In order to support this continuing acquisitions program, the COLLAB committee sponsors various symposia and fundraising events.

In support of COLLAB, Moderne’s Preview Party will be the kick-off event for COLLAB’s 1992-93 “Dining by Design — with Collectors” fundraising dinner series which takes place in September and October.

Tickets to the Ruba Rombic Benefit Preview are $35 per person. On this night only, gallery owner Robert Aibel, who is a board member of COLLAB, will offer a discount on the Ruba Rombic glassware and will donate a percentage of all purchases to COLLAB. Prices of the glassware range from $100 to $3500 per item.

The Moderne gallery specializes in original French and American Art Deco and Moderne furniture and decorative arts. Moderne is located at 111 N. Third Street in Old City, Philadelphia. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and by appointment.

For further information and to purchase tickets to the Benefit Preview, call 215-923-8526.

Black/white photographs and color slides of Ruba Rombic are available through Resnick Communications at 215-977-7383
Contact: Phoebe Resnick/Nica Lewis
Resnick Communications (215) 977-7383