The Magic of Czech Glass
The Czech glass is without doubt phenomenon not only within history of glass making but even in context of whole world culture.Although history of glass making in Czech lands is not as long as in countries that were part of classical civilization in Roman times, Czech glass at least since 18th century is considered a part of European cultural heritage.
Cosmopolitan environment of Central Europe and permanent competition between numerous glass producers were the main reason why glass makers working in territory of current Czech Republic have always sought ways how to improve quality and attractiveness of their products. They have used and invented a plenty of hot and cold techniques of glass making and refinement and tried to keep in touch with contemporary art styles and changing aesthetic canons.
It is no coincidence that the first glass school in the world was established in 1856 in a small town of Kamenický Šenov in North Bohemia, the region famous for glass making until today. Since 1885 when Academy of Applied Art, Architecture and Design in Prague was established it is possible to study glass art systematically and obtain competences for professional art and design work. At presence Czech educational system provides tuition in glass field at many specialized institutions with possibility to study glass continually from secondary school to highest university degree, bot in art and technology branches.
After establishing Czechoslovakia in 1918, the 1920s and 1930s were the period when Czech applied arts and modern design won reputation of world top class. That was possible only through the collaboration between artists, artisans,designers, craftsmen and technologists.
The development of glass making was dramatically interrupted during the WW2 and continued in 1940s due to political and economical transformation of the country. The transformation led to forced restructuring of glass industry and education in the 1950s. Natural contact with Western world were ceased namely in arts. Paradoxically this situation enabled emerging of the new generation of artists with less orthodox and more innovative approach.
World exhibition EXPO ’58 in Brussels became a milestone. That event was a real triumph of Czech glass and applied arts in general. The fact that the most acclaimed Czech participants were freelance artists, designers and teachers is significant. Czech glass artists assisted the birth of real glass art as a sovereign part of visual arts.
Contemporary Czech glass is based on respect for tradition and unique background of top quality craftsmanship, technology and education. There are tens or maybe hundreds of glass artists in Czech Republic at the moment. Regular or occasional meetings, exhibitions, symposiums, seminars, and competitions have been essential parts of the life of Czech glass community.