Jiri Harcuba: The infamous man behind the portrait
Jiri Harcuba: The Infamous Man Behind the Portrait
Jiri Harcuba was born December 6th, 1928 in the notorious glass making village of Harrachov, in the Czech Republic. Jiri was born into a family of glass workers. “So just who is Jiri Harcuba?” one may inquire. He began his glass career at the young age of fourteen, apprenticing at world renowned Harrachov glass engraving studios. Three years later Harcuba graduated from Special Secondary Glass School at Novy Bor where he studied under Prof. K. Hrodeks, and later went on to spend a summer semester studying as an external student at Pedagogical Faculty of Palackeho University in Olomouc, Leading to his participated in the world exhibition of 1958. In1971 Harcuba embarked on seven years as a free-lance artist. Harcuba was asked to participate in the international conference of crafts in Vienna, where he demonstrated glass engraving and lectured on Czech artistic glass. After attending the Glass Art Society Confrence of 1983 in Tuscon, Arizona Jiri relcocated to the United States and taught at California College of the arts in Oakland, California, and also did lectures and demonstrations at Rochester Institute of Technology in Tuscon, Seattle, and Los Angeles. He continued into the 1980’s teaching at a variety of schools, Including; at Pennstate, The Glass Art Academy in Baden, University of Illinois, Eastern University of Connecticut, Rhode Island School of Design, Yale University, the University of Bakers Field in California, and the Bratt Center of Art in Seattle. In 2001 Jiri founded the Dominik Biman School in his home town of Harrachov. (S'iti, 2013) Jiri Harcuba sadly passed away in 2013, due to complications with pneumonia. Themes addressed by Jiri Harcuba often portray figure heads of important people, fellow artists, or just his close friends. Usually portraying these portraits through a profile view, Jiri has done pieces using the famous faces of Vaclav Havel (the prominent Czech playwright, poet), Vladimír Kopecký (an accomplished Czech painter and sculptor in glass and mixed media), Salvador Dali, George Orwell, Frank Zappa, William Buttler Yeats, and Albert Camus. One particular theme brought about great controversy when Harcuba was removed from his teaching position in 1971 and held as a political prisoner, all for designing a medal that openly criticized the 1968 invasion of Prague by Soviet troops. This unfortunate event developed into Jiri doing a series of art portraying various political activists in Czech and world-wide. For his Masters of Studio Glass exhibition at the Corning Museum of glass in 2010, Harcuba requested that only three pieces from the Museum’s collection be displayed, even though The Museum owns 15 examples of Harcuba’s engraved vases and portraits in glass. Harcuba chose to simplify the presentation of his work to three objects which, he believes, reveal the essence and soul of his work. Unlike many respectable artists in the contemporary glass studio movement (such as Paul Stankard, Banjo, Coyle, or Jason Lee), Jiri Harcuba work focused mainly on cold working as opposed to flame working. Apprenticing at such a young age proved useful to Harcuba, as he went on to use those same engraving techniques throughout his career. (Glass, Masters of Studio Glass- Jiri Harcuba, 2013) The process went relatively unchanged during his life, mainly relying on standard copper bits of various shapes and sizes rotating through varied rotary equipment lightly grinding on the glass with the aid of water. Other tools he often used were grinders, grindstones, belt sanders, and lap wheels, cutting wheels, sand blasting, wet saws, and a variety of oil paints. Though he developed international recognition for these techniques, Harcuba has also been recognized for his understanding of sculpture, specifically as applied to the design of coins and medals. In 1988, he was honored by...
Cited: Glass, C. M. (2012, February). Jiri Harcuba. Retrieved from Bullseye Gallery: http://www.bullseyegallery.com/Artist-Info.cfm?ArtistsID=375&Object=#Statement
Glass, C. M. (2013, September). Masters of Studio Glass- Jiri Harcuba. Retrieved from Corning Museum of Glass: http://www.cmog.org/article/masters-studio-glass-ji-harcuba
S 'iti, A. F.-O. (2013, December). Jirri Harcuba Glass Art- Biography. Retrieved from Art Forum- Obsoniti V S 'iti: http://www.gallery.cz/gallery/en/Vystava/1999_11/Curriculum_Zivotopis.html
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