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Indepth Arts News:

"Glass Behind the Iron Curtain: Czech Design, 1948-1978"
2002-05-16 until 2002-10-21
Corning Museum of Glass
Corning, NY, USA

The Corning Museum of Glass opens Glass Behind the Iron Curtain: Czech Design, 1948-1978, on Thursday, May 16, 2002, in the Changing Exhibitions Gallery at The Corning Museum of Glass. This powerful exhibition is drawn from the permanent collection at The Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, and will be displayed through October 21, 2002.

The exhibit explores glass design in Czechoslovakia during a time of limited artistic freedom. When the Communist Party gained control of Czechoslovakia in 1948, painters, sculptors, and graphic artists were closely monitored, and ran the risk of persecution for creating non-approved abstract art. Glass design, however, was overlooked. Artists working in glass were allowed to continue their activities relatively unhindered because glass was not considered a potentially subversive medium, and some painters and sculptors migrated to the world of glass. This period in Czech glass is characterized by innovative designs that document an important "underground" stage in Czech abstract art that would otherwise be unknown. The exhibition not only adds to our knowledge of Czech glass and art, but provides an opportunity for research into another aspect of the many-faceted roles of abstract art in the 20th century.

"Modern Czech glass is just now beginning to receive the recognition it deserves," said exhibition curator Tina Oldknow. "Sealed off from the West for decades, with only intermittent periods of exposure, the work of Czech artists and designers from the third quarter of the 20th century can now be fully appreciated."

The special focus of this exhibition is an important suite of drawings from the 1950s through the 1970s, recently acquired by the Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass, some of which served as the original sketches for the glass in the exhibition. Featured artists include Václav Cigler, Jiří Harcuba, Vladimír Kopecký, Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová, René Roubíček, and Frantisek Vízner, as well as Antonín Drobník, Bohumil Eliás, Josef Hospodka, Pavel Hlava, Vladimír Jelinek, Jan Kotík, Věra Lisková, Adolf Matura, Ladislav Oliva, Václav Plátek, Miluse Roubíčková, and Ludvika Smrčková.

"The works featured in this exhibition document the remarkable artistic vision, energy, and courage of Czechoslovak artists," said Oldknow. "The artists worked under highly repressive conditions. To exhibit their work, they needed to cooperate with a political regime that demanded that art follow the dictates of Socialist Realism, a strictly narrative, representational style used to depict politically-approved subject matter. To be true to themselves, they needed the ability to create what they wanted, free from the constraints of political ideologies. And, in glass, they found a way to do this."

Glass Behind the Iron Curtain: Czech Design, 1948-1978 at The Corning Museum of Glass follows a highly successful preview at The Corning Gallery in New York City.

Home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of glass, The Corning Museum of Glass presents a variety of special special exhibitions throughout the year and maintains extensive galleries devoted to the art, history, and science of glass. The Museum experience is complemented by live, narrated performances of hot glassblowing demonstrations all day, everyday, and the opportunity to create your own glass objects in the Walk-in Workshop. The Museum is an independent, non-profit, educational institution, dedicated to the art, history, research, and exhibition of glass.

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