Hans Godo Frabel

Hans Godo Frabel was born in Jena, East Germany in 1941. He was the third child in a family with five children. The tumultuous political climate in existence after WWII necessitated a family migration to a small city called Wertheim in West Germany, where Frabel’s father opened a scientific glass factory with a business partner. After moving a few times, the family ended up in Mainz am Rhein, a much larger city in West Germany, where Frabel’s father obtained a position as a controller at the Jena Glaswerke. Frabel did not enjoy school, and when 15 his father enrolled him into a “Lehrausbildung Program” (a traineeship) as a scientific glassblower at the prestigious Jena Glaswerke in Mainz, West Germany. Within 3 years, Frabel received his “Gehilfenbrief, ” an apprenticeship diploma, showing that he had mastered the trade of scientific glass blowing. In his spare time, he had the opportunity to focus on his real passion, art, and attended different art classes, to learn how to paint and draw.

From left: Hans Godo Frabel, 2008 | Hans Godo Frabel, 1965 | Absolute Frabel, 1987

In the 1960’s glass was not considered a serious art medium and artists were not utilizing the beauty and diversity that the techniques of flame worked glass offers to create unique art pieces.

Until that time, glass designers had always been giving their designs to factory glass workers, who would then try to create their design in glass. Harvey Littleton and Hans Godo Frabel were among the first artists who chose glass as their art medium and decided to create glass art with their own hands.

Although Frabel’s art received much attention in the United States, his international breakthrough as a glass artist did not occur until 1979 when his pop art sculpture “Hammer and Nails” was utilized as the feature piece of the New Glass Art Exhibition. For the next several years, the exhibition toured the world visiting numerous museums in major cities. This international exhibition was a major factor in the recognition of Hans Godo Frabel as a founding father of modern torch work in the world of art.

Over the years Frabel’s reputation as a master in glass art has spread worldwide beyond the glass community. Frabel art pieces can be found in public and private collections in over 80 countries worldwide. Some of the more illustrious collectors of Frabel glass art are Queen Elizabeth II, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan, current and former heads of governments such as Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Anwar Sadat as well as museums in London, Paris, Tokyo, Dresden, Valencia, Corning, San Francisco, New York and Washington D. C.

Two of the most famous “trademarks” of the Frabel name are the “Hammer and Nails” sculpture from the New Glass Art Exhibition which is currently housed in Washington D. C.’s National Building Museum; and the playful, cavorting clowns which received worldwide recognition with the Absolut Vodka advertising campaign in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Hans Godo Frabel was the first glass artist honored with the title of Absolut Artist. Other famous artists that were chosen as Absolut Artist are Andy Warhol and Keith Haring.

Until the mid nineties, the Frabel Studio created art pieces almost exclusively in clear borosilicate, a strong, brilliant crystal that is resistant to scratches and which if broken can usually be restored without a trace of damage. In the mid 1990’s the artists of the Frabel Studio began exploring the use of color. Since that time, color has formed an increasingly important part of the Frabel repertoire. Other techniques the Studio employs are sandblasting and painting. Sandblasting gives the sculpture a frosted, highlighted appearance, which is an interesting optical illusion. This optical illusion is produced by the human eye, which cannot handle the diffractions of the fine indentations in the glass. The indentations or facets on the surface of the glass reflect all colors of light from its surface and confuse the human eye, giving an impression of a whitish tint.

Studio sculptures of the Frabel Studio are embossed with the trademarked “FS, ” which stands for “Frabel Studio, ” wherever space permits on the piece itself. The Frabel name and the initials of the artist who executed the design are engraved into the mounting peg, which holds the sculpture steady in its base. The executing artist sculpts the piece entirely by hand, based on the model created by the designer. These Studio sculptures are called Multiple Originals because each sculpture is uniquely created by hand and molds are never used. The vast majority of original Frabel Studio models are designed by Hans Godo Frabel himself.

One-of-a-kind Frabel sculptures are signed with “GF, ” which stands for Godo Frabel. These sculptures are one-of-a-kind exclusives or limited editions. Although an original study model has been created, it will never leave the Frabel Studio. The mounting peg bears the year of its creation.