Factory: Exbor, Novy Bor
Designer: Ladislav Oliva
Date of design: c1968
Although made using historic techniques, this avant garde, Modernist design reverses the traditional production process. Typically, a piece would be cased in another colour, and that outer casing would be cut through into the body with the design. Here, everything else but the pattern itself is cut. A large colourless glass gob was overlaid with a thin layer of gold-yellow coloured glass and blown into a mould with the raised grid pattern inside one side. When cool, the top and bottom and the four flat sides were cut and polished. As the raised mould impressed the coloured glass into the pattern, it was not removed when the final form was cut. Once corner of the base is boldy marked with the Exbor acid stamp, a similar example of which is shown in the detail images.
This vase is from a range of rectilinear vases and jardinières that also included biomorphic, amoeba-like patterns. Colours included light blue, golden yellow, green, the pinky-red ‘gold ruby’, and purple. Inspiration was undoubtedly taken from modern art movements of the time, such as Pop art and Op art, and the works of Victor Vasarely or, earlier, Piet Mondrian.
The production of modern art was banned as it did not promote the Communist ideal and was deemed decadent, subversive, and even useless by the authorities. Despite this, the régime did not see glass as a medium that could convey a social or ideological message, so artists were free to pursue modern, abstract styles in glass – and this is an excellent example.
7.25in (18cm) wide, 5in (12.7cm) high.
This range was featured in a number of issues of the state trade periodical Czechoslovak Glass Review, and a vase form of the same pattern and colour was shown in Hi Sklo Lo Sklo: Postwar Czech Glass Design from Masterpiece to Mass-Produced by Mark Hill, published by Mark Hill Publishing, 2008, p118.
About The Designer
Ladislav Oliva (b.1933) studied at the Specialised School for Glassmaking in Kamenicky Senov from 1948-51, followed by the Academy of Applied Arts under Professer Josef Kaplicky from 1951-57. From 1957-64, he was a designer at the Borské Sklo glassworks at Novy Bor, and took up the same role at the Podebrady glassworks from 1964-69. From 1969-94, he worked as head of department at the glass schools in Zelezny Brod, and then Kamenicky Senov, before becoming an independent glass artist. Although widely experienced, he is best known for his cut designs, typically on solid, almost monumental forms.