Born in Stuttgart, Eva Moosbrugger grew up in Zurich and Dornbirn, her home town in Austria, but has also lived and worked in Venice, on the island of Murano, where she trained and perfected her glass blowing and moulding technique as an artist. Over the course of her ‘prodigious career’, according to art critic Ursula Ilse-Neuman, ‘she has employed a wealth of materials to cross physical and conceptual borders. A true citizen of the world, she has bridged the artificial separations between art, craft, and design with objects ranging from functional vessels to abstract sculpture and from the whimsical to the spiritual’. She has exhibited internationally also thanks to the many grants received, and has been given prestigious prizes and recognitions such as focus open 2015 the Baden-Wurttemberg International Award, the Lorenzo il Magnifico Award and the German Design Award 2017.
Eva Moosbrugger’s early paintings reveal a remarkable sense of light, colour and form, showing through her gleaming production as a whole. Nonetheless, 1984 marked a turning point in her artistic path as from then on she would focus on three-dimensional art, initially by conceiving installations made of wood, welded metal and concrete. Soon after, her Raku ceramics and stone sculptures of granite, marble, diabas and some of translucent alabaster, came to life.
In 1995, few years after attending the Summer Academy in Salzburg under Jim Dine’s tuition, she started working with glass. In 1997, after a successful exhibition at the Het Paleis Museum of Contemporary Art in The Hague, she won a scholarship from the Austrian Ministry of Cultural Affairs in Vienna for an artist residency in Venice. During her stay there, the first of many to come, she perfected her knowledge of glass blowing and moulding technique under the mentorship of outstanding maestri del vetro in Murano, namely Oscar Zanetti and Andrea Zilio. The following year her glass sculptures were displayed in the Serenissima at the Biennale Venezia Vetro Aperto, and in Hamburg at the Museum fuer Kunst and Gewerbe. Eva’s early glass pieces show complex surface layering, coloration, and texture within balanced forms. While revealing an interest in Goethe’s colour theory, they also epitomise the abstraction from nature that has always characterised her work and can be seen, for instance, in the cycles of the Four Seasons (1997) and Four Elements: Earth, Fire, Wind, and Water (1999).
In 2001 she debuted in Japan, at the International Glass Exhibition in Kanazawa, and Toyamura International Biennial
of Sculpture in Hokkaido, where her Zen series collected great success. That same year she was awarded the Impulse Stiftung Scholarship, which allowed her to nurture her creativity and master glass sculpture as an artist. She produced larger pieces in the Murano furnaces, where she learned to handle up to twelve layers of glass, often devising a delicate veil that softens the perception of colour. In her studio she perfected cold-work techniques such as cutting, to create window-like effects through which the interior realms of her artworks can be glimpsed, and also sandblasting and polishing by hand to increase the textural complexity that characterises her highly inspiring work.
Between 2002 and 2004 Eva Moosbrugger enjoyed international recognition in three continents. In Europe she exhibited, amongst other, at the Glasmuseet Ebeltoft in Denmark, and the Archaeological Museum in Aosta, Italy. In the United States her works were shown twice at new glass review of the Corning Museum of Glass in New York, and also at the Society of Arts exhibition SOFA in Chicago and in Pittsburg. Meanwhile, in Japan, she participated in the International glass exhibitions held at the Notojima Glass Art Museum and Ishikawa Design Centre in Kanazawa. Dating from these years are her Pebbles, which can be regarded as an allegory of the artist’s search for the true essence of things through a creative, alchemic process aimed at transforming inert matter into free-blown forms of glass – a material that Eva describes as ‘wonderful, pure and pristine, with life of its own’. Her transparent, transcendent Situations whose actual weight is defied by the light they convey, are thus beings that arouse memory and feelings.
In 2005, thanks to another scholarship, Eva Moosbrugger made an extended trip to Northern Australia. There she further pursued her artistic research, aimed at interpreting nature, its elements and its forces. All this while studying primitive forms in aboriginal art and questioning human existence. Stemming from that experience are Eva’s Antipodes series and first Memory Objects.
Since her return to Europe she has further explored the concepts underpinning earlier pieces through more and more challenging artworks from a technical and conceptual standpoint. For example, There is no Black in a Rainbow (2010) appears to have been developed from Friendly Thoughts (2008), a version of which was shown at the Museum of Arts in Bornholm, Denmark. The Esprit Series (2016) further develops the concept behind her earlier Pebbles. More strikingly, reminiscent of the Three Black Stones in layered blown glass, hand polished and deeply incised
in 2002, is Three Metaphors, presented at European Glass Context at the Bornholm Art Museum in Gudhjem, Denmark, in 2016.
Nonetheless, in the last decade she has distinguished herself with large-scale sculptural installations such as the Three River Stones versions – I in glass (2007); II in sandcast bronze( 2009), exhibited in Paris at the Grand Palais; III in a tire structure: reinforced and welded PVC tarpaulin (2009); and IV in moulded and welded construction steel grids (2009), which is now at the Würth Collection in Künzelsau, Germany. In combination with glass, the artist used steel grids also for her Six Forms, exhibited at the European Museum of Modern Glass in Veste Coburg (2014). In 2017, as invited artist representing her native country, she exhibited Six Forms in the ‘G7 of Art’ exhibition in Florence, Basilica of Santa Croce. The curator, Melanie Zefferino, remarked how Eva Moosbrugger ‘explores the different properties and perception of materials, particularly Murano glass, by reinterpreting with a contemporary approach what Umberto Eco defined as the Medieval aesthetics of light’. In that respect, a stunning example of Eva’s poetics and technical skills are her Honeycrystals (2016).
Still in 2017, the artist was awarded the German Design Council International Award, in the Luxury Category, for Ocean, an outstanding piece form the Memory Objects series launched in 2015.
Eva Moosbrugger’s works are in prestigious collections in Germany, at the Staatliche Museen in Berlin, the Würth Künzelsau Collection, and the Glasmuseum Frauenau, as well as in Austria, at the Bundeskanzleramt – Artothek des Bundes in Vienna, the Vorarlberger Landesmuseum Bregenz, the Otten Hohenems Collection, the Stadt Dornbirn and also the Jürg und Edda Zumtobel Collection in Dornbirn, the artist’s home town. Other works are in Switzerland, in the Uwe Holy Collection; in Denmark, at the Glasmuseet Ebeltoft; and in France, in the Claire und Giovanni Sarti Collection.
Dr. Melanie Zefferino
Art & Theatre Historian and Curator
In January 2018