Bohemian crystal has long been a byword for quality and craftsmanship. In the hands of Czech artist Vlastimil Beránek, this glass is also strikingly beautiful and technically innovative. Indeed, his portfolio includes the world’s biggest sculpture made from a single piece of glass, as well as many others in his signature fluid aesthetic.
A leading figure in the world of contemporary studio glass, Beránek is inspired by the elements, often visualising movement stopped at a moment in time. His Ocean series, for example, captures the fleeting pause before a wave crashes on to the shore, as seen to striking effect in Royal Blue Aqua Crystal Caviar (from €120,000). The Smoke collection, meanwhile, records the ephemeral plume that rises from an extinguished match – Beránek’s Plume of Smoke (€400,000) is a 2.3m-high take on the theme in topaz crystal.
Every Beránek sculpture is unique and many are made bespoke (from €100,000). For example, he was recently commissioned by someone who had seen a two-part piece he had made for a friend and wanted something similar. “The brief was for a slightly slimmer version of the original,” says Beránek, “with one sculpture in topaz blue and the other in pink. I used rose quartz to inspire the pink colour in the Bohemian crystal, and the two sculptures now stand in the entrance hall of an extremely prestigious project.”
When it comes to aesthetics, however, Beránek says “there is only one style; Vlastimil Beránek style”. The material poses some technical limitations – it just isn’t possible to create a 10m-high piece in crystal because it would collapse under its own weight – but he enjoys the commissioning process and will do all he can to meet clients’ wishes, even if it means not using glass at all. Beránek has just completed a large garden sculpture made from fibreglass coated in metallic paint, because Bohemian crystal would not have stood up to the low temperatures in the client’s garden, and he is currently working on a sculpture cast in bronze. But no matter what the material, these timeless yet utterly contemporary creations all take time: smaller pieces require around six months, while anything weighing over 100kg will be a year, or more, in the making.