For his Masters of %%Studio Glass%% exhibition in 2010, Harcuba requested that only three pieces from the Museum’s collection be displayed. The Museum owns 15 examples of Harcuba’s engraved vases and portraits in glass, dating from 1958 to 2009, and 12 early design drawings, dating from 1958 to 1961. However, the artist chose to pare down and simplify the presentation of his work to three objects which, he believes, reveal the essence, or soul, of his work.
The objects Harcuba selected for his exhibition included the double portraits of Václav Havel (95.3.60) and Vladimír Kopecký (95.3.61) that he created in 1995 for the Museum’s Rakow Commission, a special commission that is awarded annually to one artist.
In the Rakow Commission sculpture, Václav Havel (b. 1936), the prominent Czech playwright, poet, and political dissident, is portrayed with minimal, spare cuts. An inspiring leader, he is a powerful symbol of political and personal freedom. After the fall of communism in 1989, Havel was president of Czechoslovakia (1989–1992) and then the Czech Republic (1993–2003) during its important first decade of independence.
The other personality that Harcuba honors in the Rakow Commission is the respected Czech artist Vladimír Kopecký (b. 1931). An innovator and an accomplished painter and sculptor in glass and mixed media, Kopecký represents freedom in art and in glass for Harcuba, who depicts the artist with a mass of energetic cuts.
The third object in the exhibition was a portrait that Harcuba made in 2009 while he was teaching in Corning at the Museum’s Studio. It depicts a personality famous in glass history: the Bohemian engraver Dominik Biemann (1800–1858) (2009.4.89). In his engraved portraits, Biemann dispensed with elaborate decorative borders and other motifs characteristic of the period, preferring to focus on his finely executed and precisely detailed profiles. Harcuba’s portrait of Biemann is, in Harcuba’s words, “my latest version of Dominik Biemann, with whom I have an eternal dialogue.”
This is a checklist of vessels and sculpture by Jiří Harcuba in the Museum's permanent collection. These objects were not on view in the exhibition Masters of %%Studio Glass%%: Jiří Harcuba.