Art is the silent language of the soul when it cannot express itself through the other channels of formal communication. Over the centuries, people have used materials, such as glass, to express their artistic nature and messages in nature. Glass, in particular, has allowed the creative spirits of human history to make artistic objects that range from little artifacts the rest of us humble humans admire in houses all the way to huge monumental structures for outdoor admiration and wonder.
The Royal Ontario Museum in the heart of the trend-setting Yorkville is house to more than 6 million objects, including impressive glass art.
Unique Attributes of Glass
Why is glass such a favorite material for expressing artistic works? First of all, it enjoys a great level of malleability, and you can beat it into many shapes to reflect what you want to pass across to your “audience.” In addition, glass gives the artist a wider leeway of determining the coloring of his artworks. Besides, glass can capture the splendor and reflection of light in many beautiful ways. In addition, you can apply different kinds of finishes to glass to give it varying effects, such as cracking and etching. These qualities make glass a favorite material for creating wonder and admiration among art lovers.
Today, we will give you a graphical representation of the most distinguishing and heart-stopping artworks from different epochs of human history and geographical regions that have left a lasting impression across the world. We will also explore different artistic glass expressions such as stained glass art that has become synonymous with church chapels among other artworks.
If you have not travelled the world to see these artistic wonders for yourself, this is a great chance to take a good taste of what they look like!
1. Stained Glass Windows of Sainte-Chapelle
When it comes to the beauty and excellence of glass-stained artwork, it is nearly impossible to mention it without linking it to a certain cathedral or chapel somewhere. Built in the 1240’s, this breath-taking piece of glass art stands out as one of the wonders of the medieval ages in Europe. The chapel has held on to its illustrious beauty and magnificence for hundreds of years. Moreover, its glass-stained windows stand out as the center of focus and attraction to local and foreign art lovers and admirers.
Built with 600 square meters of stained glass, the mind-boggling artwork was intended to serve other purposes beyond mere artistic impression. The glass artworks were designed as tools for telling Biblical, political, and local stories for those who were unable to read. For instance, the chapel has 1,130 Scriptural figures that are imprinted in its glass. Even though it has gone through many seasons of damages arising from neglect and other disastrous occurrences, the chapel has retained its place a premier piece of glass art in the heart of France and mainland Europe.
2. Erawan Museum, Thailand
We begin our artistic journey in the Far East in the heart of the Kingdom of Thailand. The Erewan Museum is one of the magnificent glass artworks that capture and represent the spiritual perception and heritage of the Thai people. This building is a reminder of what the Thai believe about the universe and its various levels of existence. Its three floors are symbolic of the three levels of the universe, at least according to the Thai traditional beliefs. Its splendid and lustrous stained windows are believed to represent the human race. Designed with a perfect blend of both eastern and western cultural orientations, the glass-stained artwork represents an atlas which is crafted by the zodiac that is believed to unite all mankind.
3. Saint Vitus Cathedral, Czech Republic
From North America, we return to Europe where we find the Saint Vitus Cathedral in the Czech Republic. In the heart of this little European nation lies this church facility that has kept its doors open for many visitors and admirers since it was constructed in the 14th century. The cathedral’s glass-stained windows are a representation of Gothic artistry and imagination that give the city of Prague a reason to be proud.
4. The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
From the south of Europe, we move on to the far north and enter The Netherlands. Here lies the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, a magnificent edifice that is a home to music, films, radio, and television. The building is an epitome of modern digital media owing to its artificial cubed space and the famous TV images that it features.
5. Glass Flowers Collection at Harvard Museum of Natural History
From mainland Europe, let us take you to North America in the US and land in the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Cambridge, Massachusetts. This museum is a collection center that shows human admiration of the beauty of plants. It is a model of plants with more than 4,000 plants put on display in the museum. It also represents the blending of art with science where a team of a German father and his son dedicated their time to come up with these wonder-inspiring artworks between 1887 and 1936.
Acting on the request of Professor Lincoln Goodale, the artists created these plants to be used as educational tools for teaching students about plant anatomy. The good professor wanted to get something that would allow scholars to learn throughout the year without relying on natural plant samples. The artists crafted the artificial plants using glass that had wire support by softening them through heating and blowing.
The creators of this artwork used several ways to capture the mood of real plants. For instance, they used colored glass to capture the life-like shades that live plants provide. Additionally, these plants have the same feel of bloom and beauty throughout the year, and hence, they give the admirer a perennial taste and feel of plant beauty.
6. The Sun by Dale Chihuly
Still in North America, we cross the borders into Montreal, Canada and enter The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. With a semblance of a tree-sunburst hybrid, this glass artwork comprises more than 1,300 of hand glass-blown components that have undergone expert weaving to craft a magnificent unit. When the evening light shines through it, the artwork produces a spectacular display of splendor and admiration that makes the outdoors the place to stay as the sun sets.
When its creator designed it, he had color and light as the primary components that will bring out the beauty of the “sun.” So great is the attraction power of this glass art that when it was created, the artist had to carry it around to display it in many museums across the world. This masterpiece is an icon of artistic imagination that blends the marvels of the Creator’s hand in nature and human admiration.
7. Singing on Paddington Street by Julia Vogl
From mainland Europe, we cross the English Channel and come into the heart of the United Kingdom—London. Created by a famous artist Julia Vogl, the breath-taking sculpture is a celebration of the power of music in the heart of London. The glass sculpture measures 102 square meters, and it features various components that are created from colored glass. This piece of glass art is a symbol of the homage the artist pays to the Marylebone region that acted as a springboard for many recording artistes in the 60’s and 70’s. In essence, this artwork is designed to celebrate the power of music and its impact on people’s lives and minds. Anyone can enjoy the grandeur of this glass artwork ranging from ardent music lovers all the way to the passer bys who happen to be in this part of London. Moreover, the sculpture is a perfect blend of art and modern technology since it was crafted using modern computerized water jet cutting tables, polishers, and drills.
8. Grossmünster Church, Switzerland
From the streets of London, we end our journey in a Swiss church. Built in the 20th century, this church in Zurich is one of the religious edifices that have perfected the art of optimizing stained glass artwork. Towards the end of the last decade, Sigmar Polke revamped this historical church facility with stained-glass window that are made of semiprecious stone agate. The artistic “renovation” was meant to make the church facility not just a point of connecting with and reflecting upon spirituality, but also the marvels of nature through art.
From museums, to church edifices, and all the way to street sculptures, we have taken a comprehensive look at the wonders of ancient and modern glass artworks from across the world. Our virtual journey has taken us from the Far East in Thailand, through Europe, and all the way to the Far West in North America. Irrespective of age, region, and purpose, our coverage has given you a tantalizing representation of how much glass is a powerful tool of expressing art.
We believe you are now in a more advantageous position to appreciate and admire the wonders of glass-made artistry.