One of the most celebrated periods of Czech glass making, the Art Nouveau era, found its most profound manifestation in the wide variety of shapes of iridescent vases made by the glass factory Lötz in Klostermühle in Šumava. Similarly, other glass factories employed from the beginning of the 20th century in increasing numbers professional designers, making a unique contribution to the world glass production.
During the 1920s glass products were richly decorated in the Art Deco style, among examples are vessels painted in bright colours with enamel paints, small glass figures as well as elaborately engraved glass pieces by Josef Drahoňovský and Jaroslav Horejc. The restrained shapes of articles of every day use designed in the functionalist style by Ladislav Sutnar and Alois Metalák are documented in the glass gallery.
From the second half of the 1950s Czech glassmakers were scoring success at international shows, including the World Exhibition EXPO 1958 in Brussels. In the following decades, apart from designs for industry, artists used glass in an increasing manner as a material on a par with painting and sculpture. The success of Czech glassmaking in the 20th century was backed up not only by hundred years old tradition of glassmaking and excellent technological foundations, but also by a sophisticated educational system of specialist secondary glass schools and colleges at which creative talents of future artists, technicians, craftsmen and managers are nurtured.
The Art Nouveau style also penetrated the art of ceramics. The popularity of plant motifs in the Secessionist art is demonstrated in the painted and glazed vases by Anna Boudová-Suchardová, in porcelain produced in the Karlovy Vary region, and in the student work from the Celda Klouček studio at the School of Applied Arts in Prague. On the other hand, the sculptor František Bílek created a number of vases from fired clay under a strong influence of Symbolism. Czech artists reacted in a unique way to the Cubist style, as demonstrated not only in architecture and furniture design, but also in the progressive ceramic creations produced in the Prague co-operative Artěl after design by Pavel Janák and Vlastislav Hofman.
After 1918 the young Czechoslovak Republic was quick to adopt the Art Deco style with its abundant ornamentation and colours. Luxury items produced in limited series or one-off artistic creations by artists such as the sculptor Otto Gutfreund or Helena Johnová were most typical artefacts of this period.
From the end of the 1920s designers in the modernist functionalist style promoted utilitarian, non-decorative pure shapes of serial products which were generally more easily available. Ladislav Sutnar was among leading designers for industry at this time, renowned for, among other, simple sphere shaped porcelain sets.
The 1950s style manifested itself successfully not only in glass products, but also in porcelain, examples of which were presented at various international shows at the time.
Part of a dining set Ladislav Sutnar, 1928 – 32 porcelain