Sunday, October 04, 2020

Venice: Le Stanze del Vetro - Venice and American Studio Glass


“The goal of the mid- to late-20th Century American Studio Glass movement was to free glassmaking from industrial processes and to develop glass in the artist’s studio as a material for contemporary art. Some artists took the new studio glassblowing in experimental and innovative directions in the late 1960s, yet most Americans were hampered by their lack of technical knowledge.”


Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore

Le Stanze del Vetro

Venice and American Studio Glass


Right across from Piazza San Marco and Palazzo Ducale on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in the Stanze del Vetro - Venice and the American Studio Glass show – until January 10 - is curated by Tina Oldknow and William Warmus. Gathering 155 outstanding glass vessels, sculptures and installations created by 60 American and Venetian artists, this exhibition is the first to closely examine the influences of traditional Venetian glass-working techniques, as well as the Venetian aesthetic, on the American Studio Glass from the 1960s to the present.


 Venice and American Studio Glass


By 1960, glassblowing had become industrialized in the United States and many skills were lost, so American Studio Glass artists looked to Europe, and especially to Venice and the glassblowers on the island of Murano, for guidance.  What ensued was a “love affair” with Venetian glass-working that, by the end of the 1990s, had spread throughout the United States and worldwide.

Harvey K. Littleton - Blue Projectile Impact – 1984

This iconic glass sculpture, shot with a rifle, is symbolic of the bold new directions in glassmaking that Americans wanted to take.


Harvey K. Littleton – Blue Crown – 1988

The sense of arrested movement that can be seen in this sculpture is characteristic of Littleton’s work at that time, as is the way in which the colors are multiplied and magnified inside the glass.


 David Landau


Dale Chihuly – Cobalt Goblet – 1971

Pioneering artists such as Dale Chihuly and Benjamin Moore traveled to Venice, learned Venetian techniques, and then invited Venetian maestros to the United States to teach. 



 Harvey K. Littleton – Distortion Box II – 1974


Dan Dailey – Prima Donnas – Circus Vase - series – 2019



Dale Chihuly

Cadmium Orange Venetian #350 – 1990

Payne’s Gray Venetian #24 - 1989

 both made with Lino Tagliapietra


Richard Marquis  

Stars and Stripes Acid Capsule #4 – 1969-1970

 Crazy Quilt Teapot – 1985

Richard Marquis, who also traveled to Venice, developed entirely new uses for the Venetian mosaic technique, known as murrine, for his American flag-inspired objects, crazy quilt teapots, and Marquiscarpa vessels.


Dale Chihuly  

Olive Green Venetian with Sawtooth Flanges  

Chrome Yellow Venetian – 1989

Napoleone Martinuzzi

Anfora Pulegoso a Dieci Anse – 1925


These experimental vessels were made during Chihuly’s first ‘Venetians’ blow with Lino Tagliapietra in Seattle.


Benjamin P. Moore – Interior Fold Plater – 2001

Moore traveled to Venice, learned Venetian techniques, and then invited Venetian maestri to the United States to teach at Pilchuck.  His body of works focuses specifically on Venetian aesthetics, and is inspired by mid-20th-century Venetian glass design.



Benjamin P. Moore – Pala Set – 2008


Preston Singletary – Alligator Goblet – 1990

Singletary introduces American narrative elements into his lighthearted goblets – think of the Everglades of Florida.



 Salviati dott. Antonio – Calice da Parata Fume’ Con Tre Serpenti Alati – 1880


 Richard Royal – Tropical Leopard Skin Scroll – 2015

Royal’s work is not Venetian-inspired. But, like many other artists in this exhibition, Royal uses Venetian techniques in the making of his vessels and sculptures.


Dante Marioni

Red Parquet Mosaic Vase – 2007 Yellow in Red – Z – Leaf Pair – 2017

Pink Reticello Urn – 2010


 Lino Tagliapietra - Dinosaur – 2018


 William Morris

Canopic Jar: Elk – Spike – 1993

Canopic Jar: Hawk – 1993

Canopic Jar: Raven – 1993

After meeting Pino Signoretto, Morris made a series of hot-sculptured bones.  Then he embarked on the first of many widely recognized series of works: the blown and sculptured Canopic Jars, which are an American hunter’s and naturalist’s (Morris was both) interpretation of ancient Egyptian prototypes.


Flora C. Mace – Joey Kirkpatrick - The Edge of Certainty – 2002

Mace and Kirkpatrick explore the idea of the vessel as a metaphor for the body and identity.


 Venini’s New Look – 1952

In the 1952 Venice Biennale, Venini entered a display of vases designed not by the factory’s artists and architects, but by the glassblowers themselves. The unusual shapes and cloth-like patterning were based on the haute couture New Look of Christian Dior 1947 collection, which the owner’s French wife wore when she visited the factory. Ginette Gignous Venini was intimately involved in running the company with her husband Paolo Venini, and she could often be seen by the male workers in the furnace room as she ascended and descended the stairs to the office. A few of these glass pieces were put into limited production and presented as designs of Paolo or Ginette Gignous Venini.


James Mongrain – Atlantis Series – 2014

Mongrain takes highly skilled goblets making to an over-the-top, monumental scale, pushing process to create vessels that are more architectural than functional.



Katherine Gray – Acqua Alta – 2008

Gray delves into the narrative potential of the vessel, creating poignant stories around vessels that reflect history and current events.


Kim Harty – Old Venetian Glass – digital print - 2013 – detail

Harty uses the goblet, specifically, to explore identity, comparing the form of her body with the traditional goblet shapes that she draws in hot glass around her.


Laura Donefer – Jeff Mack – Violet Amphora Classico Moderno  2017


Michael Schunke – Sacrificial Vessel Trio – 2019

Schunke has perfected Venetian-style goblet making, which he practices as a profession.


 Lino Tagliapietra – Calice Floreale – 1991-1994



 Charles Savoie – Zanifirico Jetson Goblets – 2019

Savoie has perfected Venetian-style goblet making, which he practices as a profession.


 Martin Lipofsky – Venini Series – 1972

made with Gianni Toso



Fondazione Giorgio Cini – Carnelutti Hall

Dale Chihuly – Laguna Muran Chandelier – 1996

in collaboration with Pino Signoretto and Lino Tagliapietra


For the first time Le Stanze del Vetro reaches outside of its usual exhibition space and moves into Fondazione Giorgio Cini’s Carnelutti Hall which has become the stage for the spectacular work in glass for the Laguna Murano Chandelier. The chandelier, produced in 1996 in Murano by Dale Chihuly, together with the glass maestri Lino Tagliapietra and Pino Signoretto, consists of five blown and densely- sculptured elements that are executed in a rich palette of brown, amber, yellow and opalescent glass.  Sea gods, mermaids, and a bounty of sea creatures rise out of the seaweed-like glass curls of this spectacular and historic installation that pays homage to Murano and to the Venice lagoon.















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