Glassfever at the Dordrechts Museum, The Netherlands

In art, as in life, I have personally found there to be a duality present. In order to live a meaningful and happy life and experience a rich journey one should embrace a combination of the real together with the fantastical, abstract and imagined. This place of juxtaposed aesthetics is no more relevant than at Glassfever, the Dordrechts Museum’s new exhibition.

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Here it is evident that beauty comprises a mergence of styles, materials and designs to make for unusual, sought-after and somewhat absurd creations bringing together the imagined and the real in a way never-seen-before – and within the backdrop of a museum with mostly 2D Dutch art.

As such, the Glassfever Exhibition, currently on at four museums within Dordrecht itself, is an exciting demonstration of the use of glass in seemingly unconventional settings – one, that I would say goes far beyond the traditional use of glass as purely decorative.

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At the Dordrechts Museum, for instance, you can expect to view works of animals and living beings of all sorts (all made in glass). The use of glass is not only unusual in these instances but it is particularly detailed and beautiful (in fact, I wonder how exactly the museum has moved such a delicate piece of glass without breaking anything! Just look at those glass ‘hairs’ on this feline creature below for example).

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Additionally, the crow (below) with red cut glass in its mouth forms the centrepiece of the Glassfever exhibition. It is set in the centre of an exhibit of artists from Dordrecht (2D works in the backdrop). This very real, life-like work questions the fragility of life – with the crow literally carrying cut glass in its beak – a sure sign of its perturbed voicelessness under a once beautiful red chandelier construction (now a shattered, fragmented ruin amidst various modes of art).

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The red beauty of the broken chandelier is easily seen as bloodshed and the crows as vultures taking it apart. What is art, it questions? What is the natural aspect thereof and should we tear down that which is man-made in order to reveal its rawness, realness, that which makes it what it is – a depiction or abstraction?

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Additionally, there are many other glass pieces on display at Glassfever that seem to fall under abstract or decorative but probably object to such a classification from the get-go.

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Even more striking (and pertinent to myself as an African) is this familiar image of various African figurines amidst a tower of African-style household cooking pots. (Aside – I didn’t spot any glass here).

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The leaning tower of pisa or the tower of Babel are motifs that spring to mind. Make of it what you will, this is evidently an important structure which holds the gaze of all wooden figures below.

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Another work that appeals to one’s sense of appetite is the massive cocktail olive piece (in glass of course!). Fascinating and somewhat out of context within the 2D framework of art within the Dordrechts Museum.

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And here’s a video to sum up the Glassfever experience for those who have never been to the Dordrechts Museum yet (note – you have until September 2016 to view the Glassfever exhibition).

Lastly, I want to conclude on an abstract note (as throughout) and mention my favourite work from the exhibition. The peacock’s colours successfully sum up a way of thinking for artists. The creature has a glass head that resembles a skull (outdated thought perhaps?). Yet its body is a glorious, real and lively aspect waiting to spread its wings and embrace the world (albeit the lack of flight). Is this the purpose of art, it questions? Should we opt for the heart, body and soul of the work opposed to the brain of it? What aspect is mostly intuitive to us and what must be thought-out? What should be done even if there is no possibility or prospect of flight?

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Elizabeth Joss

Elizabeth Joss is the founder and main writer at The Museum Times. She is a content marketer and university lecturer by day and an avid travel blogger and arts and culture enthusiast by night. Elizabeth started The Museum Times out of the need to give smaller, lesser-known museums more exposure.

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  1. Glassfever at Huis van Gijn in Dordrecht, The Netherlands - The Museum Times
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