René Roubícek is another Czech artist who disguised his obvious interest in abstract art in glass design. Like Jirí Harcuba, Roubícek used glass as expressively as possible. While Harcuba focused on engraved decoration, Roubícek experimented with the actual form of the glass, creating shapes that look spontaneous but are actually very difficult to make.
The cooperation between Czech artists and glassmakers had its challenges. Most glassworkers, because they had no motivation to do otherwise, preferred to avoid trying new or difficult techniques. Many artists had to convince the glassblowers that their ideas were even executable. There were exceptions to this, however, in glassblowers such as the legendary master Josef Rozinek. Rozinek executed many of Roubíèek’s more difficult sculptural forms in blown glass.
Roubícek studied at the School of Decorative Arts in Prague from 1940 to 1944, in the studio of Jaroslav Holeèek, and at the Academy of Applied Arts with Josef Kaplický from 1949 to 1950. When the government began to rebuild the glass industry after the Second World War, Roubícek set out for Kamenický Šenov to teach in the Specialized School of Glassmaking, where he remained from 1945 to 1952. A jazz musician who impressed his young students, Roubícek introduced revolutionary ideas for the shapes of blown glass and its cut decoration. He worked as a designer at the national glassworks at Nový Bor from 1955 to 1965, and taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague from 1966 to 1968.
Roubícek received a grand prize at Expo ’58 in Brussels for a much discussed, large, abstract sculpture made of multiple blown elements. The Czechs found it necessary to justify this display because it did not conform to the tenets of Socialist Realism, and it was described in its label not as a sculpture, but as an array of different kinds of glass materials. A major influence in modern Czech glass design, Roubícek has worked since 1969 as a freelance artist, often in collaboration with his wife, Miluše Roubíèková. His glass sculpture and vessels have been exhibited continuously over the last 40 years in major international expositions, museums, and galleries.
Published on October 18, 2011