A 1960s Scarce Pavel Hlava for Exbor Monolith Vase

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Factory: Exbor, Novy Bor
Designer: Pavel Hlava
Date of design c1957
Produced: 1960s

An unusual and rare variation of Pavel Hlava’s best-known serially produced designs, and one that captures and holds the eye and mind. Hlava’s award-winning tall, monolithic cased and cut vases executed in bold colours were designed from 1957 onwards and exhibited widely, including at the Triennales in Milan in 1957 and 1960. Their use of vibrant, contrasting or complimentary colour and the cased sommerso (submerged) technique indicate that Hlava was inspired by designs being produced at the time on Murano. Hlava elevated his designs above being direct copies by cutting them with broad polished facets. These reflect and refract the internal core, and their hard edges contrast against the rounded form. Shapes and colours used varied widely. Lesser factories on Murano responded to this by producing less well-rendered examples typically cut with many more facets, which destroys the simple strength of Hlava’s designs.

This example is unusual and rare as it is three-sided. This creates an appealing optical effect as the sides and the internal decoration reflect and refract off each other. Furthermore, it also contains an extra layer – the contrasting green ribbon spiral. Under certain lights, it appears to disappear where it covers the red core, leaving a column of dashes framing the core. Like all of Hlava’s ‘Monolith’ vases, although a practical design, it is more a sculpture than a vase and an interactive one at that – the images speak for the optical effects better than words. This example is in excellent, original condition and the polished concave pontil mark on the base bears an acid-etched circular Exbor mark similar to the one shown in the detail images.

8.75in (22.2cm) high.

Pavel Hlava’s iconic ‘Monolith’ vases can be seen in a number of issues of Czechoslovak Glass Review from the late 1950s-70s, in Hi Sklo Lo Sklo: Postwar Czech Glass Design From Masterpiece to Mass-Produced published by Mark Hill Publishing Ltd, 2008, pp.12 & 114 and, these and an example with the internal spiralling on this example, can be seen in Pavel Hlava Glass, by Dr Sylva Petrova, published by Grafiatisk, 1995, pp.14 & 15.

About The Designer
Pavel Hlava (1924-2003) studied at the Specialised School of Glassmaking at Zelezny Brod from 1939-42. He continued his training at the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague, studying under Professor Karel Stipl. From 1948-59, he was an independent artist and designer who collaborated with the influential Centre for Design in the Glass & Ceramic Industry. In 1959, he moved, becoming a designer in the glass department at the Centre for Homes & Fashion Culture. He taught at the Royal College of Art in London in 1967, and worked as an independent glass artist and designer from 1985. Highly innovative and experimental, he is best known today for his monolithic cased vases, his dynamic use of colour and exploration of internal space, and his progressive work in studio glass, which resulted in many unique works.