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This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

Brain Power

Photography by Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images.


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As the story goes, a young woman walking across the frozen sea between Öland and the mainland of Sweden slipped and fell. She passed into a coma, not awakening until 30 years later. By then her mother and both brothers had died, and the only thing she remembered was profound darkness. And blue men.

Inspired by this story, Bertil Vallien, one of the artists from the highly acclaimed Kosta Boda Artist Collection, has created a wonderfully evocative series of glass sculpture called Brains. Lying like a dream in the palm of one's hand, the tiny orb is enormously appealing to both the eye and the sense of touch, and seems either a reflection of oneself or a reminiscence of someone else. There are now seven heads in the series, with names like Pablo (green), Midas (gold), Florence (frosted), Albert (frosted black), Cesar (red), John (silver), and Karolina, the name of the woman about whom the story is told (this one, as you might imagine, is blue). Since the Brains are handblown, they all are slightly different from one another, and each is an individual work of art.

Mr. Vallien recognizes the myriad artistic opportunities offered by glass. His creations have interior depths of light, and his Brains evoke a mysterious power of suggestion—and of heat and cold. Imagine all seven in a crystal bowl or vase, a row of four or five in the middle of a coffee table, just one placed strategically on a desk. One Brain or several, they are suggestive, inspirational keepers of secrets—or simply wonderful to gaze upon and hold. $155.


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