Colorful, modern glassmaking in 1990s Norway

With the art of glassmaking becoming a focal point of cultural interest this month – the impressive «Glass of the Sultans» exhibition opened on Wednesday at the Benaki Museum – the «Norwegian Contemporary Glass» show, currently at the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum, takes a look at glassmaking in the 1990s. The traveling exhibition, which is being put on by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was curated by Ulla-Mari Brantenberg, an artist, and Frank Falch, an art historian. A prolific glassmaking country, Norway has produced glassworks since 1741. Known as Nostetangen, glass was originally used for drinking glasses, bowls and crystal candlesticks. After decades of high, top-level quality production, however, the Norwegian glass industry ran out of wood supplies used for fueling purposes and the country’s workshops was forced to close down. The oldest Norwegian glass maker, Hadeland Glassverk, was founded in 1762, and has made a major contribution to the production of Norwegian glassware throughout the 20th century. Following World War II, glassware developed into a prominent form of decoration, combining imaginative motifs with the practical side of glassware. At the end of the 1970s, glassware artists were able to establish their own studios and thus grow independent of the greater companies, a move that enabled them to develop designs and take the art of glasswork in altogether new directions. At the Ilias Lalaounis Museum’s ground floor, the well-known gold and silver pieces created by the house of Lalaounis is sharply contrasted with the joyful colors and shapes of the Norwegian artists, often inspired by nature, as in Kari Hakonsen’s «Nests» or Arne Jon Jutrem’s «Seashell.» Catherine Maske, another artist whose work is on show, has been working on a novel technique over the last few years, whereby digital versions of photographs are encapsulated in glass, while Ida Pernille Lochen is currently working on designs for drinking glasses and carafes. Citing the material’s great ability to capture light, the artist uses beautiful colors such as sweet red for her creations. Oluf Foinum likes to convey a message without using words and uses what he refers to as portals. Also part of the exhibition are two video projections, both from the Corning Museum of Glass. ‘Norwegian Contemporary Glass,’ at the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum. To March 28. 12 Kallisperi, Acropolis, tel 010.922.1044, 010.923.9260.

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