Born in Prague in 1922, the world-renown glass artist René Roubíček died in his native city on Sunday, April 29, 2018, after a brief illness. Despite his age and until his last moments, Roubíček was actively engaged in artistic pursuits and full of contagious energy. He is recognized as an artist who, from the 1940s, contributed greatly to enhancing the perception and use of glass as a full-fledged sculptural material.
He was also one of the founding fathers of the European Studio Glass movement – an internationally acclaimed phenomenon co-pioneered by Czech artists who worked with the material to realize sculptural expression decades before the United States movement began. In a highly original manner, Roubíček exploited the most natural glassmaking method: close teamwork with master glassmakers in improvising at the furnace. Roubíček’s monumental objects made of glass and metal had already earned him international acclaim at Expo ’58 in Brussels and, a decade later, at the World’s Fairs held in Montreal in 1967 and Osaka in 1970.
The Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague intensively collaborated with René Roubíček throughout his career and owns a comprehensive collection of his art ranging from his early works produced in the 1940s to glass objects made in the recent past.
The museum’s director Helena Koenigsmarková says of the artist: “That near century of René Roubíček’s creative output – for he must have already been born with glass – is something that will endure despite the fragility of this material. His joy when working with glass and his smile when playing jazz on the piano in the glassworks, but even during his final days in the hospital, will always remain with us. Personally I was immensely pleased that he had created a wonderfully colourful, sparkling chandelier for our renovated museum building last November.”
--Milan Hlaves is a curator at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague.