Masters of %%Studio Glass%%: František Vízner, curated by Tina Oldknow, was part of an ongoing series of exhibitions that celebrates the diverse work of studio glass artists. It examined the career of an internationally respected Czech artist and designer whose extraordinary sculptural vessels are collected by museums and private collectors worldwide.
The 40 objects in the exhibition spanned 40 years of the artist’s career (1962–2003). Most of them are unique studio pieces, which Vízner made on his own, without assistants, through a lengthy process of sandblasting, acid-etching, and hand-polishing the glass into graceful, seemingly atmospheric volumes of color. With their reduced forms, deep and luminous hues, and clean, articulated lines, Vízner’s studio vessels illustrate the artist’s desire to formulate a “new concept for the modern vessel.” While these vessels are based on the shapes of functional bowls and plates, we best understand their pure and simple volumes as nonfunctional, sculptural forms.
Also included in the exhibition were early designs for industry, which were made by factory glassworkers at the Czechoslovak State Glassworks in Teplice and Škrdlovice. Vízner’s blown glass designs, which are rarer and less known than his studio work, often utilize strong color contrasts and show an unusual manipulation of surface and interior textures. The techniques of hotworking and coldworking glass are very different, and this is clearly seen when Vízner’s blown or hotworked designs produced in the factory are compared with the cut, ground, and polished chunks of cast glass that are coldworked by the artist in his studio.
The Masters of %%Studio Glass%% series aims to widen the picture of contemporary art in glass, and to deepen the public’s appreciation and understanding of individual artists’ contributions to the studio glass community. All of the objects in the exhibition were drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection.