This exhibition will give visitors a chance to see a multitude of top works from the impressive glass collection of Sam Jonker and Valentine Zaremba, earlier this year presented to the Gemeentemuseum on long-term loan. The collection consists of abstract geometrical objects made of optical glass, an art form that flourished in the former Czechoslovakia. The highly coloured Minimalist objects play with light, form and reflections, surprising and delighting the viewer from whichever angle they are beheld.
The exhibition is a tribute to Sam Jonker (1930-2009), who died this year after assembling a large collection of Czech glass in collaboration with Valentine Zaremba over a period of thirty years. The objects in the collection are made of optical glass, which – as the name suggests – is famous for its optical qualities. The glass artists of the former Czechoslovakia are supremely skilled at exploiting the magnifying, reducing and colour-changing effects of the material. The appearance of optical glass objects changes constantly in response to light and alterations in viewpoint.
The work of Václav Cígler is, of course, amply represented in the Jonker/Zaremba collection. In 1965, this trend-setting artist established the Glass in Architecture Department at the Bratislava Academy of Fine Arts, thereby laying the basis for the whole abstract geometrical movement in optical glass art. His 1987 glass sculpture Pyramid is a fine illustration of the architectural qualities typical of his work. It is composed of two pyramid shapes, the smaller of which rests with its pointed apex on the ground, like a stiletto heel, and supports the larger one. Each pyramid is composed of many layers of vacuum metal-coated mirrored table glass glued together. Another art work that demonstrates the optical qualities of Cígler’s work is Two Half Eggs. This 1994 work consists of two half egg shapes, the tops of which are sliced off diagonally and have a mirrored surface. Inside them, trails of glass and other ‘irregularities’ create the illusion of an egg yolk.
Numbering over a hundred objects, the Jonker/Zaremba collection is unique in the Netherlands and enjoys a considerable international reputation.
The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, which has its own outstanding glass collection extending from the earliest glass of Antiquity right through to the latest contemporary glass, is therefore particularly delighted that the Stichting Modern Glas has presented it with this unique collection of Czech and Slovak glass on long-term loan.
ING Nederland has likewise decided to present its own exceptionally fine complementary collection of Czech and Slovak glass to the Gemeentemuseum on long-term loan. Thanks to these two collections, the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag now houses the most important collection of glass from the former Czechoslovakia anywhere in the Netherlands.