20th Century Czech Glass Design Drawings
The Steinberg Foundation Collection in the Rakow Research Library
Glass in Czechoslovakia has had a particularly interesting history throughout the 20th century, when it has been closely tied with artistic movements in painting and sculpture. In spite of political repression in much of the 20th century, Czech artists and designers managed to retain some freedom of expression in glass, evidenced by their exploration of abstract art. The innovative and original designs that characterize Czech art glass and commercial design reflect the Czech desire to create a strong, national identity for its glass.
In 2001, the Museum acquired a unique, large, important, and rare collection of more than 1,500 original design drawings, dating from the 1940s to the 1970s, that were amassed by the Steinberg Foundation in Vaduz, Liechtenstein. After the drawings were purchased, it was discovered that many of them were the original sketches for objects already in the Museum’s collection of Czech glass.
The drawings show how Czech artists explored and transformed abstract ideas into glass. Created with watercolor, gouache, charcoal, and pencil, the drawings shed light on an important period in 20th-century Czech art. They also provide insight into the ways in which an artist develops an idea in two, and then three, dimensions.