Monday, September 23, 2013

Venice: Island of San Giorgio Maggiore – Le Stanze del Vetro: Napoleone Martinuzzi Venini 1925-1931.

Photograph courtesy Le Stanze del Vetro 

Venice: Island of San Giorgio Maggiore – Le Stanze del Vetro: Napoleone Martinuzzi Venini 1925-1931.  Now on it’s third exhibition, the Stanze del Vetro, the beautiful new museum dedicated to glass on the magical Island of San Giorgio, that looks across the Bacino di San Marco towards the Piazza, the exhibition Napoleone Martinuzzi Venini 1925-1931 (until December 1st) curated by Marino Barovier. During his collaboration with Paolo Venini, Martinuzzi designed beautiful objects whose shapes were inspired by classical design, but also involved the use of innovative techniques and glass paste. The exhibition reconstructs his whole production chronologically: from elegant transparent blown glass to works with an unprecedented opaque texture, from the experiments with pulegoso glass (a semi-opaque or translucent glass with a rough surface due to tiny bubbles formed by using special ingredients) to pieces with deep, dense colors.
Above 1: a photograph of Napeoleone Martinuzzi besides a marble bas-reliefs for the Memorial to the Fallen of Murano, 1920s. Napoleone Martinuzzi, an artist held in high esteem by poet Gabriele d’Annunzio, became a partner of Paolo Venini in 1925. In his capacity as the artistic director of V.S.M. Venini & C. he designed marvelous objects until 1931. After devising elegant clear blown glass objects, the artist went on to explore previously unseen matter like bubble glass and opaque glass in intense and solid colors. In so doing Martinuzzi designed a wide repertoire of vases, cups, lights, and peculiar decorative objects like fruits, colored glass creatures and succulent plants, some of which were monumental in size.

Above 2: Napoleone Martinuzzi vases in red cased glass, green bubble glass, blue clear glass and succulent plant in blue bubble glass, Napoleone Martinuzzi for V.S.M.Venini & C., 1925-1930.

Napoleone Martinuzzi: Transparent Glass - 1925-1931. Transparent blown glass was a typical and almost exclusive product of Murano glassworks until about 1928, when the first opaque glass, that was soon to become extremely popular, was produced. Most of the glass designed by Napoleone Martinuzzi in his capacity as the Artistic Director of V.S.M. Venini & C. consisted of clear and transparent vases, cups and goblets, devised between 1925 and 1927. In his production he would mainly focus on volumes, and his items are often larger than the real-life model and/or feature open-mold ribbing, waists or applied glass-thread decoration. He also relied on ancient decoration techniques as meza stampaura and filigrana, which by the way earned him enthusiastic feedback at the 3rd Monza Biennale.

Napoleone Martinuzzi Venini 1925-1931. The around 200 works on display in the exhibition are representative of the most significant stages in the glass art of the ingenious sculptor from Murano. Many of these works were presented at the Venice Biennale from 1926 to 1930 and at major exhibitions of decorative arts, such as the Biennale and the Triennale in Monza. 1930 was a significant year in the history of Venini: thanks to Martinuzzi’s talent, the Venini production was noted for the singular richness of the works shown at these important exhibitions. They ranged from classical transparent pieces to a collection of pulegoso glass with an archaic feel, the striking aquariums, the brightly colored velato vases, the cacti and the colorful “bestiary”.

Napoleone Martinuzzi Venini 1925-1931. The exhibition also explores the relationship between Martinuzzi and the poet Gabriele d’Annunzio, who commissioned the Murano artist to make not only sculptures but also works in glass. To illustrate their special bond and the artistic vision shared by these two personalities, the exhibition includes a reconstruction of one of the rooms in the Vittoriale by stage designer Pierluigi Pizzi, with some of the most significant works that Martinuzzi designed for the poet. They include a bright pumpkin made of incamiciato glass (the glass is covered by a second thin layer of different colored glass), which Martinuzzi designed specially for D’Annunzio’s residence, a vase with large ribbed handles, a large basket with fruit, a transparent blue glass cup and an elephant made of red vitreous paste.

                          Photograph courtesy Le Stanze del Vetro                          


Napoleone Martinuzzi Venini 1925-1931. Other particularly interesting items in Martinuzzi’s production for Venini include the series of fruit and vegetables that he designed from 1926 on. They were based on natural models including poppy fruits and sprouts and common vegetables (tomatoes, onions etc.). 

 Photograph courtesy Le Stanze del Vetro

Napoleone Martinuzzi Venini 1925-1931. A personal interpretation of a theme fashionable in the late 1920s, were these works on a monumental scale and designed to be placed in public spaces as polychrome glass sculptures. One example is the succulent plant made of pulegoso glass, now in the Palazzo delle Poste, Bergamo. It  is displayed to illustrate the taste of an entire period. 


                                                                                                               Photograph courtesy Le Stanze del Vetro

Napoleone Martinuzzi Venini 1925-1931. The exhibition includes a selection of period photographs and original drawings both of glass pieces and some monumental glass sculptures, such as the “statue” of a Dancer (1928) and the succulent plants shown at the first Quadriennale d’Arte di Roma (1931).
Above: Succulent plant in black glass and in red glass paste, Napoleone Martinuzzi for V.S.M. Venini &  C. 1929-1930.
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