Erwin Eisch and the art of glass


The name of Erwin Eisch is inextricably linked with the international studio glass movement that liberated the material glass from its purely practical function and made it into a material for artistic expression. The possibilities for adding curious ideas to the plastic form are endless, but also as a background to be drawn or painted on, glass acquires a poetic quality in Eisch’s hands. One stylistic characteristic of Eisch’s art in all areas is the way his figures hover. It is not only an expression of his own feeling for space with regard to the Earth and the cosmos but is also derived from the impressions of Baroque wall paintings which accompanied him from his youth onward in the example of the ceiling fresco by Franz Anton Rauscher in the Parish Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Frauenau. At the same time and to an equal extent he is also a painter and graphic artist. In the work of Erwin Eisch it is important to recognise the unconventional painter who leads us away into a creative world which can give us new insights and perspectives through its strength, dedication and remarkable degree of wit. His drawings reveal an intricate and specious humour which is mostly expressed even in the title of the work, such as, for example, “Immer wenn ich blau bin” (“Whenever I’m blue” – whereby the figurative meaning of “blue” in German is “drunk” rather than “sad”). His paintings are more demanding – they are mostly challenging and uncomfortable; they do not obtrude, but demand to be studied at length and quietly, in order to make their particular world, the cosmos created by the artist, comprehensible to us. “At the end of the 1950s I established contact with the Spur group at the Academy in Munich. At that time we were all impressed by Tachism, by “Art Informel”. However, I soon realised that for me there would be no further development there. Social criticism predominated and the student revolts of ’68 were already in the air. Their manifesto was the end of art. So in 1960 Max Strack, Gretl Stadler and I founded the Radama group. With the memorial exhibition for Bolus Krim in 1961, in which we presented the failure of the avant-garde art of the time, I took my leave of the Munich art scene. In 1962 Gretl and I got married and went to Frauenau. That was where the glassworks of the Eisch family was located and where I began making glass in 1952. It was only at the end of the 1970s that painting became my theme once again. We started our search for figurative art; abstraction took a back seat. The process of painting became my path to the picture, to life and to liveliness.” (Erwin Eisch in an interview with Masahiro Hochida, 2002)

Both Erwin Eisch and his wife Gretel Eisch passed away in 2022.

Erwin Eisch was awarded a number of prizes

  • 1977 Special Prize, Coburg Glass Prize
  • 1982 Honorary Membership G.A.S.
  • 1985 First Prize, Coburg Glass Prize
  • 1987 Cultural Prize, East Bavaria
  • 1992 Krystallnacht Project, Gold Award for “My love to Anne Frank”, American Interfaith Institute Philadelphia
  • 1995 Lifetime Achievement Award G.A.S.
  • 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award, Urban Glass, Brooklyn, NY