In Glorious Glass Escher in The Palace showcased the finest optical glass from the Stichting Modern Glas collection, in collaboration with Kunstmuseum Den Haag. The glass sculptures from the Czech Republic and Slovakia magnify, reduce and colour everything around them, and literally give us a new perspective on the world. Optical glass is usually used to make mirrors, spectacles and lenses, but Czech and Slovak artists conjure it into beautifully harmonious works of art. The abstract geometric objects play with reflection and light, assuming a different form from every angle. They also trick our eyes, just as M.C. Escher’s work surprises and amazes us every time we look at it.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia have a long tradition of glassmaking, with a lively glassmaking industry that is known for its craftsmanship and precision. In former Czechoslovakia, glass was used mainly as a material for applied art, until Czech artist Václav Cígler established the Glass in Architecture department at the art academy in Bratislava in 1965. Cígler trained a new generation of glass artists and set up his own movement in international glass art. The artists of his ‘school’ were guided more by the creative process, producing autonomous sculptures in optical glass that are full of light and motion.
The abstract geometric optical glass art of Václav Cígler (b. 1929), Lubomír Arzt (1946-2015), Miloš Balgavý (b. 1955), Pavol Hlôška (b. 1953), Zora Palová (b. 1947) and Štěpán Pala (b. 1944) was on display in several places at Emma the Queen Mother’s former winter palace from 7 July to 8 November 2020 for everyone to see and admire, from all angles.