Curator: Milan Hlaveš
Graphic design: Miroslav Roubíček
This small exhibition marking what would have been the 90th birthday of the late Jiří Harcuba is a reminder of his extensive and outstanding work in engraved glass and medal design.
His exquisite and superbly original stylised portraits of prominent figures engraved on lead crystal using rotating wheels attracted well-deserved attention and recognition. The artist’s highly prized medal designs were equally numerous and of a quality that matched his engraved glass. Harcuba designed hundreds of cast and minted medals and coins, including the Czechoslovak and later Czech five-koruna coin. Harcuba’s innovative treatment of this medium was based on applying some of the techniques he had learnt as a glass artist.
After graduating from university Jiří Harcuba became a lecturer in the glass studio at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. He was forced to leave the Academy in the 1970s for political reasons, but in the wake of the 1989 revolution he returned as a professor and head of the metal, jewellery and engraving studio, and he was ultimately appointed Rector of the Academy. Harcuba had more than twenty-five solo exhibitions and was involved in numerous group exhibitions, starting with the EXPO ’58 World’s Fair in Brussels. His work won many awards and is now part of the collections of prominent museums and galleries around the world. In 1997 Harcuba helped to found the Dominik Biman Society to support glass engraving, and in 2001 he co-founded the international Dominik Biman School. Now operating as the Jiří Harcuba School, it regularly organises events in countries around the world.
This exhibition at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague pays tribute to this internationally acclaimed artist and presents work from his entire professional career. The exhibition is also an expression of the museum’s gratitude to the artist’s family, especially Zdena and Pavel Harcuba, for their recent and very generous gift of fourteen of the artist’s glass objects. Some of the items they donated are on display in the recently opened Portheimka Glass Museum in Smíchov in Prague. The family also donated several thousand items, representing the bulk of Harcuba’s work, to the Czech National Bank on condition that these works should not be split up. In 2016 the CNB opened a permanent exhibition of Jiří Harcuba’s work in one of its buildings in Brno.