The Broken Window Theory

Contemporary glass artist Simon Berger speaks a singular plastic language

by exploring the depth of his material, the glass that he pounds, or cracks

with a hammer. The window becomes the support of an expansion done by

impacts playing with transparency. The closer and briefer the blows, the

stronger the contrasts and the shades. In his hands, the hammer is not a

tool of destruction, but rather an amplifier of effects.

His lacerated portraits, sculpted in glass, bring the gaze into the

intricacies of transparent wounds that he calls “morphogenesis”. A pioneer

of this technic, his broken pieces evoke his fascination for faces,

especially women’s. With his work on window panes, the artist takes

ownership of reality, and probes the expressive copabilities of inert

materials destined for factories. His metallic paintings become canvases

where perceptions confront with interpretations.

Simon Berger began his artistic explorations with spray can before turning

to other mediums. A carpenter by training, his natural attraction to wood

inspired him his first creations out of the street. A lover of mechanics,

he also spent plenty of time working on car carcasses. It was while

pondering about what to do with a car windshield that his art was born.

“Human faces have always fascinated me”, explained Simon. “On safety glass,

these motifs come into their own and magically attract visitors. It is a

discovery from abstract fogging to figurative perception.”

A compulsive explorer of materials, he has also sculpted hyper realistic

anamorphism of colored faces using the suspenders of Jeans and T-Shirts, or

skulls with the remains of a washed-out ceiling… His art shakes up the

interpretation of reality and his esthetics put an interesting spin on the

“broken window” theory.

Simon Berger was born on April 9, 1976, grew up in Herzogenbuchsee

(Switzerland), trained as a carpenter after attending primary and secondary

school. Lives and works now in his own studio in Niederönz.

Simon Berger’s glass portraits visualize a tension between strength and

fragility through its motif, as well as his handling of the glass.

The anonymous female portraits commonly share a powerful expression,

their fierce gazes either piercing through the viewer, or fixating on an object

beyond the frame. When approaching the artworks closely,

these captivating images disintegrate into an amalgamation of cracks

and jagged-edged shards of glass. Contrary to expectations of how glass

should be handled cautiously to ensure its integrity, Berger makes use

of the material’s brittleness to develop his artistic language.


Reminiscent of sculptural techniques, a hammer is used to imprint the highlighted

facial features into the sheet of glass. An initially transparent support of the image,

the pane of glass, becomes partially opaque.

The controlled shattering of the glass creates fractures which are subject

to the material’s physical laws. However, instead of collapsing into itself,

the safety glass keeps the shards in place. These artworks fascinate by

juxtaposing strength with fragility and expectations towards glass with

Berger’s approach to the material. The incidence of light is reflected by the

fragments and cracks within the glass, making the artworks surface gleam

and glisten and depending on the illumination, it seems as if the portrait itself

were glowing. Through destruction, Simon Berger allows beauty to emerge.

Text by

Vivienne Heinzelmann