When he was 6, Wenzel Hablik stared deep into a crystal he’d discovered in his hometown of Brüx. Inside, he saw “magical castles and mountains” that would haunt the artwork, architecture, and design of this polymath Czech artist for the rest of his life.
Raised in his fathers cabinetry shop, young Wenzel became a carpenter by age 12—the beginning of an unrelentingly creative life. After his apprenticeship Wenzel painted porcelain, worked as a draftsman for an architect, and studied painting at the Vienna Kunstgewerbeschule and the Prague Academy of Arts. At age 25, Wenzel made a solo ascent of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps. Ascending through the clouds toward the glittering peak was an experience that shaped his 1909 collection Creative Forces, a folio of twenty etchings detailing crystalline structures perched in the snowy heights of the Alps.
The heavenly crystalline haunted Hablik’s work, appearing in paintings, drawings, and more subtly in his interior design work. In 1907 Hablik met Richard Biel, a timber merchant who became his mentor and patron. Through Biel, Wenzel Hablik expanded his work dramatically, evolving from artist to designer. Over the next ten years he created textiles, furniture, jewelry, wallpaper, and combined these physical elements into refracted colorful interior spaces—rooms that feel like living inside the fragmented light of a crystal.
Reed Enger, "Wenzel Hablik, Architect of invisible cities," in Obelisk Art History, Published September 07, 2015; last modified October 27, 2022, http://www.arthistoryproject.com/artists/wenzel-hablik/.
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