Artist Simon Berger creates striking portraits by shattering glass. Sitting atop a fresh pane and brandishing a hammer, he makes strategic taps onto the surface to produce spider web-like motifs and render a three-dimensional form. The human face, for instance, is a perfect example of how this works. Anything in highlight—such as the forehead—is done by him striking the same part of the glass time and again. The fractured areas turn white and help convey a sense of form. Berger refers to this as “painting with targeted fine hits.”
The artist has spent years perfecting his approach. “The first glass picture was created in 2016 while experimenting,” Berger tells My Modern Met. “I was immediately enthusiastic about this possibility because I was always striving to find a new form of representation. I like creating beautiful things through destruction.”
Since that time, he’s created large-scale pieces that hang in galleries and adorn store windows. But one of his most exciting projects involved Vice President Kamala Harris. A shattered glass portrait of her was created by Berger in just one day and displayed at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in early 2021. This medium is particularly fitting for Harris as she shattered the proverbial glass ceiling by being the first female, first Black person, and first Asian American to hold the title of Vice President.
Scroll down to see a video of Berger producing Harris’ portrait as well as his other incredible works.