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Consultancy on the international strategy for a traveling exhibition on modern glass.

  • Title
    • Optic! The wonderful world of Hans van Bentem & optical glass from the Czech & Slovak Republics (2016/2017)
  • Artist
    • Hans van Bentem
  • Exhibition management and consultancy
    • Arttenders
  • Commissioned by
    • Stichting Modern Glas
  • In collaboration with
    • Nationaal Glasmuseum Leerdam, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
  • Location
    • Leerdam

Artist Hans van Bentem was commissioned by Stichting Modern Glas to curate and design an exhibition, using a part of the modern glass collection Jonker-Zaremba in combination with personal new works. This resulted in the exhibition Optic! De wondere wereld van Hans van Bentem & optisch glas uit Tsjechië en Slowakije, that was on view in Het Nationaal Glasmuseum from October 2016 to June 2017. An accompanying publication was written by the director of Stichting Modern Glas, Titus M. Eliëns.
Arttenders consulted on the international strategy for the traveling exhibition, in close collaboration with Titus M. Eliëns and Hans Van Bentem.

‘Heaven’ by Hans van Bentem . Photo by Erik and Petra Hesmerg

Optical glass: a niche movement

The collection Jonker-Zaremba consists of extraordinary glass objects, collected over a period of 25 years. It is distinctive due to the collection of optical glass, a niche movement in glass art that embraces the characteristics of optical glass by emphasizing the refraction of light. This movement emerged in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia) from the late 1980s. The collection therefore contains unique works of several influential Czech and Slovakian glass artists.

Reframing traditional period rooms with comtemporary glass art

In 2012 the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag curated the spectacular exhibition Keep On Dreaming!. In this exhibition six sculptural installations by Hans van Bentem interacted with the 17th and 18th century period rooms that have been an integral part of the museum since 1935. Even the most inveterate lover of the traditional furnished period rooms was surprised by the way Hans van Bentem's evocative installation reframed the specific identity of each period room. In the 17th century Gobelin Room Van Bentem showed Heaven, a gradually illuminated crystal four-poster bed created in the Czech Republic. This impressive installation created an unprecedented play of light, which remarkably evoked memories of the collection Jonker-Zaremba.

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Photography by Erik & Petra Hersmerg. Courtesy of the artist.

The current relevance of optic glass

The association of Heaven with the refraction of light in optical glass triggered the idea to invite Hans van Bentem to curate an exhibition containing both his own works and objects from the collection Jonker-Zaremba. The versatility of Van Bentem's work sheds a new perspective on optic glass, both placing it in a historical perspective and highlighting its current relevance.

The exhibition design and commissioned pieces both curated by Van Bentem create an interesting dialogue between the works. Not only did Hans van Bentem respond with his own works, he also organized workshops around the exhibition that invited artists to respond as well. This created a refracting aspect to the exhibition itself: constantly growing and changing with each new perspective.