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Nov. 11 Art Minute: Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová, Gray Table

Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo Art Museum, Toledo Museum
Stanislav Libenský (Czech, 1921-2002) and Jaroslava Brychtová (Czech, Born 1924), Gray Table. Cast Glass, 1987; cast 1988. Gift of Dorothy and George Saxe, 1991.98

The artistic collaboration between the husband-and-wife team of Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová has significantly shaped the landscape of contemporary glass art, redefining glass’s use as a sculptural medium through their investigation of light, color, and, form. Their accomplishments are especially remarkable given the oppressive political conditions of the Communist government of what was then Czechoslovakia, where they spent much of their career. Libenský and Brychtová were among the artists who supported a rebirth of Czech art as a form of political protest. Their volumetric, light-filled works, which stretch the physical limits of the material to achieve mass and scale, are both impressive and technically difficult.

Gray Table belongs to a body of work from the 1980s that took the form of tables and thrones. While much of the couple’s work is geometric and abstract, this more representational expression is perhaps a quietly subversive symbol of the power and control exerted by the government over their personal and artistic lives until the 1990s.

This work is currently on view in the exhibition Global Conversations: Art in Dialogue.