Svatopluk Kasaly 1944 - 2021

Article  /  Artists   History   ElaineKim   SvatoplukKasalý   Obituary
Published: 23.06.2021
Svatopluk Kasalý. Photo: Taras Kuscynskyj, 1977 Svatopluk Kasalý. Photo: Taras Kuscynskyj, 1977
Elaine Kim
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The world has lost a legend. Born in 1944 Svatopluk Kasalý produced a varied body of works that represents one of the greatest accomplishments in the field of contemporary Czech jewelry. From the 1960s he created glass sculptures for public interiors as well as glass jewelry.

Despite having had his work scrutinized by the former Communist regime as being “too Western” and being denied permission to leave the country to attend his exhibitions until the fall of communism in 1989, Kasalý was one of the first Czech artists to be celebrated in Western Europe through his participation in numerous international exhibitions including V&A Museum, Toledo Museum of Art, and Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim.

Svatopluk Kasalý. Pendant,1972. Hand Made Cut Glass, Bronze, Rhodium Galvanization, (Moravian Gallery Brno Collection).
Photo: Taras Kuščynskyj. Model: Venuše Samešová. Design: Peter Branfield.


Not one of Svatopluk Kasalý's jewelry worked by his free and fluid hand is reminiscent of the works being made in the traditional Czech glass industry. Initially, Kasalý used sand-blasted and etched glass, later on, used only cut glass of different colors in the form of lenses as well as irregular shapes which are mounted in rhodium-plated base metal. Sensuousness is an essential part of Kasalý’s jewelry. The abstract design of his necklaces and bracelets emphasizes the mass and contour of the female body. In appearance, his “neckpieces” are functionally ambiguous. It exists as a sculpture when off the body, and when on it, although the content changes dramatically. The constant theme of the body provides the tension between the wearability and the seemingly non-wearability of the forms. Kasalý believed that the wearing of jewelry transforms or completes the work, and it seeks to be appreciated from all viewpoints.

I feel grateful and privileged to have had the opportunity to work with Svatopluk in 2010 for the “Lovers from Prague: Czech Jewellery” which was the first major exhibition in Korea to explore the significance of Czech jewelry as one of the important European design movements of the twentieth century. That is a moment I will cherish forever. Svatopluk Kasalý was a true original. He will be deeply missed. I wish to extend my sincerest condolences to his family and friends.

> Svatopluk Kasaly Jewellery at Instagram

About the author

Elaine Kim, is currently Deputy Director at the World Jewellery Museum and Adjunct Professor of Museum management & curatorship at the College of Fine Arts, Kyung Hee University.