Beth Lipman’s masterpiece, acquired by the Renwick Gallery in 2007, is a 20-foot-long oak table cluttered with the aftermath of a decadent dinner party. Rendered entirely in glass — some 400 pieces, including glass rodents — it wasn’t originally meant as interactive art. But it has turned out that way.
Inspired by still-life painting, Lipman’s work contains an implicit critique of excess. A lobster and a broken glass bowl seem to have been knocked to the floor by a careless guest. According to Renwick chief Robyn Kennedy, hardly a week goes by without museum guards having to reassure some nervous visitor who swears, “It was like that before I walked in the room.”
Through April at the Renwick Gallery. 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. 202-633-1000 (TDD: 202-633-5285). www.americanart.si.edu/renwick . Free.