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Expert recommendations and insider tips for first-time visitors and locals alike from ARTĚL’s founder, Karen Feldman, who has lived in Prague since 1994. Click on the links below for detailed reviews – from Feldman’s own unique perspective – of all the best that Prague has to offer...

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“Water On Standstill” – René Roubíček’s Glass Sculptures

Published on June 01st, 2017 in Entertainment

  • René Roubíček (Czech, b. 1922), photo:http://pedal-project.com/blog/fotky/p-art-rene-roubicek-RR1.jpg

  • René Roubíček, Bohemian Glass Forest, 1967 World Exposition, clear glass, metal, water. Produced by Nový Bor Glassworks. Photo: source unknown

  • Postcard for the 1967 World’s Fair in Montréal, Canada. Photo: http://worldsfaircommunity.org

  • René Roubíček, Bohemian Glass Forest/Glass Columns, clear glass and metal. Veletrzní palác, Prague, Czech Republic. Photo: Author

 

The late 1950s and early 1960s were an important period for Czech glass, as several artists began to experiment with using blown glass to make monumental large-scale sculptures.

 

One of the best-known glass artists of this era is René Roubíček, and several of his most famous works can be seen at the National Gallery in Prague – Veletržní Palace (Národní galerie v Praze – Veletržní palác).

 

René Roubíček, Photo: Kultura iDNES

 

A classic example of Roubíček’s work on view at the museum is a towering sculpture entitled Bohemian Glass Forest. Designed for the Czechoslovakian Pavilion at the 1967 World’s Fair in Montréal, it consists of 15 huge cylinders (3-4 meters in height) made by winding molten glass around metal rods. Right nearby sits another impressive Roubíček sculpture that features massive glass columns, entitled Bohemian Glass Fountain.

 

René Roubíček, Bohemian Glass Forest, 1967 World Exposition, clear glass, metal, water. Produced by Nový Bor Glassworks. Photo: Glass Review no. 9, 1985, p. 6

 

Reflecting the artist’s definition of glass as “water on standstill,” both sculptures capture a dynamic sense of movement, almost as if they were geysers sprouting up from the ground.

 

The works are especially noteworthy because at the time of their creation, glass was seen as a purely functional material, so manipulating glass to explore ways of conveying personal and artistic expression was seen as a radically new idea.

 

In these and other works, Roubíček pushed glass beyond the boundaries of the purely decorative or functional vessel to express his own personal visions – which did not strictly conform to the ideals of Socialist Realism (the only state-approved art style under Communism).

René Roubíček, Bohemian Glass Fountain, 1967 World Exposition, clear glass, metal, water. Produced by Nový Bor Glassworks. Photo: Glass Review no. 2, 1994, p. 15

 

His work was also an important influence on a number of young American glass artists, including Harvey Littleton, Marvin Lipofsky, and Dale Chihuly. Each of these artists traveled to Czechoslovakia in the late 1960s to study Czech glassmaking techniques and eventually became instrumental in the development of the American Studio Glass Movement, which stressed exploring the expressive, sculptural qualities of glass.

 

Detail of René Roubíček, Bohemian Glass Forest/Glass Columns, clear glass, metal, water. Produced by Nový Bor Glassworks. Veletrzní palác, Prague, Czech Republic. Photo: Author

 

So whether you’re a student of modern glass design or just curious to see some beautiful sculptures with an interesting history – if you’re in Prague, we recommend taking some time to out these impressive glass sculptures!

 

 

Amy Hughes

Ph.D. Candidate

Fulbright Alumna and Visiting Research Fellow,

Ústav dějin umění, Akademie věd České republiky, v. v. i

Art and Design History and Visual Culture Studies

University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

 

Veletržní Palác (Fair Trade Palace)

Dukelských Hrdinů 530/47, 170 00 Praha 7-Holešovice

http://www.ngprague.cz/en/objekt-detail/veletrzni-palace/

hours Tues.-Sun.: 10:00-18:00

metro Vltavská

tram 6, 17 – Veletržní palác and 1, 6, 8, 12, 17, 25, 26 – Strossmayerovo náměstí

Cost: 250 CZK per person/150 CZK (reduced)/free for children under 18 and students under 26

 

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