Glass artists show prowess with form

There are large and small glass abstracts, stylized glass animals, a ''painting'' made of glass, stained-glass windows and glass objects shaped like plates and bowls. ''Libensky and His Students: 44 Czech Glass Artists,'' on view through June 8 at the Museum of Arts and Design, examines master artist Stanislav Libensky's influence on 42 of his students.

The exhibition features 73 works, including several by Libensky and his partner and wife, Jaroslava Brychtova.

The students on show, some of whom have become leading artists, are graduates of Libensky's studio, open from 1963 to 1987 at the Prague School of Applied Arts, now known as the University of Arts, Architecture and Design.

Libensky, who died in February 2002, and Brychtova are known for their intimate and monumental cast glass creations and for their work in elevating Czech glass sculpture to a serious art form.

'Translated' drawings

In the current exhibit, their works are displayed among 27 works in a gallery a few steps below the museum's lobby. The three designs are geometrical and abstract, with inner and outer shapes and color gradations in black, gray and rust.

The dome inside ''Intersection'' (1997-98), a polished, nearly 3-foot-tall, half-circular slab, is illuminated by light from above and through a slim opening on the front.

Ursula Ilse-Newman, the museum's curator, talked about the couple's creative process and the cast glass or mold-melted technique. Libensky made drawings (eight of them are on display at the museum) and Brychtova ''translated'' them by filling chunks of colored glass into a plaster mold that was then placed in a kiln or oven to melt and form the glass.

Brychtova had to ''envision the color ... the denser the glass, the more vivid the color,'' Ilse-Newman said. Then the glass, removed from the mold, is cooled -- which takes weeks or even months. After cooling, the glass can be further shaped by polishing and grounding.

Their rust-red creation, ''Cross Head II'' (1988-1998), about 2 1/2 feet tall, resembles a robotic head with a rounded shoulder, a triangular prism protruding from the head and an illusion of a triangular prism within the head, etched from behind.

Ilse-Newman said that the artists were influenced by cubism. ''Cross Head II,'' she said, is ''living, not static, with a great deal of movement,'' noting the glass' swirls or striations and bubbles, formed during cooling, and the play of light upon and within the sculpture.

600450 Glass artists show prowess with form

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