Glass Biographies. Polish Women Glass Designers 1945–2022

Contemporary Polish glass design (from the mid-20th c. to the present) has attracted growing interest and appreciation. It has been pursued by collectors, explored by scholars and museum curators, and featured at topical exhibitions. The National Museum in Wrocław has contributed by organizing in recent years two major retrospective exhibitions: of Jerzy Słuczan-Orkusz and Eryka and Jan Drost.

Glass Biographies

“Glass Biographies” is a project devoted to the women artists pursuing glass design in Poland after World War II, from the  later 1940s to the present. Over the decades, they have made a very significant contribution to the field of design and to the Polish glass industruy. The majority graduated from the State College of Fine Arts (Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Sztuk Plastycznych, PWSSP) in Wrocław, today the Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Art and Design, which in the late 1940s started a seminal glass design programme. Their individual professional activity was largely defined by their jobs and many coinciding and intertwined circumstances not always conducive to career development. Many spent their whole professional life working for a particular glassworks, like Regina Włodarczyk-Puchała, Eryka Trzewik-Drost, Barbara Urbańska-Miszczyk, Maria Słaboń, and Barbara Kaczmarek-Górska. For others – like Lucyna Pijaczewska, Barbara Świstacka, Ewa Gerczuk – designing glass was a brief but significant episode marked with signature works. Some members of the younger generation – like Katarzyna Hałas, Agnieszka Bar, and Aleksandra Kujawska – have been active as independent artists and freelance designers, redefining the relationship between the designer and client. Of the lives of some women glass designers we know little and their scarcely documented careers and oeuvres remain largely uncharted.

But they have all approached glass as an artistic medium, determined to reconcile their designer ambitions, inspirations, and ideas with the reality of the times.

The “Glass Biographies” exhibition presents select artists but the list could have been much longer. The featured works tell the story of changing tastes and customer preferences. Reflecting continuous transformations of family and social life, the evolving needs and rituals influence the look of private and public interiors and thus also the final form of objects.

Curator: Dr. Barbara Banaś
Exhibition design: Grupa Projektor (Joanna Jopkiewicz & Paweł Borkowski)
Producers: Jarosław M. Gawron, Filip Kuźniar

Works from the collections of: National Museums in Wrocław, Warsaw, and Kraków, Schoen Palace Museum in Sosnowiec, Łukasiewicz Research Network – Institute of Ceramics and Building Materials In Kraków, Art Documentation Centre at the Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław, private collections

The exhibition is based on the curator’s research funded by an individual grant from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Poland