Fumio Sawa Fine Art
114 East Main Street, Suite A Trinidad, CO 81082
Loetz was the premier Bohemian art glass manufacturer during the Art Nouveau period (or Jugendstil, as it was called in German-speaking countries) from roughly 1890 to 1920. Founded in 1840 by Johann Loetz in what is now the Czech Republic, the company became known for its innovative techniques, organic forms, and bold use of color.
By 1889, Loetz was one of the region's leading glassmakers. That year, the company took first prize at the Paris Exhibition for its classic vase forms, some of which were hand-worked and deformed into swirling, organic-looking shapes like seashells, flowers, and tree trunks. Decorative vases, cups, and pitchers were other popular forms in the Loetz lexicon, and many of the pieces practically glowed thanks to their iridescent sheen from the firing and reduction techniques that were popular at the time. For its contributions to the field, Loetz was awarded the grand prize at the Paris World Exhibition in 1900.
One of the most beautiful and collectible Loetz series from this period is called Phänomen, whose chief characteristic is the rippled or featherlike designs on the object's surface. The company patented the Phänomen technique in 1898 and used it in combination with techniques pioneered by L.C. Tiffany in the United States—in particular, Tiffany's iridescent Favrile work. Combined, the two techniques provided plenty of inspiration for Loetz designers and artisans, including E. Prochaska, Franz Hofstötter, and Koloman Moser.
After 1905, when interest in the florals waned, Loetz pushed its surface treatments further than ever while relying on shapes that had been with the company for decades. Without a doubt, the most memorable Loetz art glass from the end of the Art Nouveau era is the Tango series. Unlike the work that had preceded it, which was all about dense color combinations and tricky surface treatments, these two-toned pieces typically featured single colors on mostly unadorned surfaces, with contrasting lip wraps or handles.
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