Munich; “Murano. Milano. Venezia. Glass” at The Design Museum
by Venetia Kapernekas
Curators: Dr. Xenia Riemann, Dr. Josef Straßer ; Assistant curator: Nadine Engel; July 1, 2016 – Oct. 16, 2016 (Die Neue Sammlung, Pinakothek der Moderne,Rotunde, 2nd floor)
While I am enjoying some days in Maremma/Toscana, I reflect back to Munich with a beautiful exhibition that opened few weeks ago in Munich “Murano. Milano. Venezia, Glass” with around 200 object and accompanying drawings from the Holz Collection (Berlin) which is deemed one of the most important collections of glass from Murano world wide.
Vases “A Piume” (Installation view), Archimede Seguso,
c. 1956, XXVIII. Biennale di Venezia, 1956, Sammlung Holz, Berlin, Photo: Anna Seibel
The international exhibitions held at the Triennale di Milano and the Biennale di Venezia are barometers of the most significant developments in twentieth century contemporary design and art. It is therefore no coincidence that Murano glass regularly attracts awards at both Milan and Venice. Having resurrected a range of centuries-old techniques, glassmakers such as A.V.E.M, Archimede Seguso, Barovier & Toso, and Venini learned to apply this knowledge in new and ingenious ways. Their work is a synthesis of the master glassmakers’ craftsmanship and the designers’ artistry. The objects they create attest to a successful renaissance of glass design that continues to the present day. (edited text/press/ Die Neue Sammlung)
Vase “Cinese”, Carlo Scarpa for Venini, c. 1940, XXII. Biennale di Venezia, 1940, Sammlung Holz, Berlin, Foto: Atelier Martin Adam, Berlin
“…Murano is the embodiment of Italian glass design. Venice had advanced to being a centre for Middle European glass art as early as the 13th century and when the entire glass production was moved to the neighbouring islands, glass from Murano gained world-wide importance from the 14th century onwards. As the Republic of Venice’s power dwindled, glass production on Murano also declined. Yet it was revived during the 19th century and enjoyed another peak in the 1950s and early 1960s.“(Angelika Nollert,director of Die Neue Sammlung at preface of published book/catalogue of the exhibition )
“Calice a spirale”, an object from the Artisti Barovier factory, is one of the oldest pieces. The cup on a spiral-shaped base went on display during the very first Venice Biennale in 1895. While the glass objects realized prior to the First World War were typically designed by the factories themselves, from the 1920s on designers and artists were brought in to decide the shape and appearance of objects. Collaborating closely with the glass-makers enabled them to explore the creative and technical scope glass afforded. Indeed, opaque vessels by architect Carlo Scarpa inspired by Chinese vases stand for a new design idiom as championed by the Venini glass factory……. (Die Neue Sammlung press)
Objects “Vetro Pesante”(installation view), Alfredo Barbini, c. 1962, XXXI. Biennale 1962, photo:Anna Seibel
“…Workshops such as A.Ve.M., Archimede Seguso, Barovier & Toso or Venini managed to develop a contemporary formal language by employing new shapes and decors and in this way assumed a leading role alongside countries such as the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries, France or the former Czechoslovakia. In the 1950s and 1960s in particular, peak performances were achieved in Murano glass in terms of an autonomous design that certainly possessed analogies to abstract art. “(Angelika Nollert,director of Die Neue Sammlung; preface in the book/catalogue of the exhibition )
“Barovier is one of the oldest Italian glassmakers and family businesses, founded in 1291 on the island of Murano. Murano was where the glaziers had to do their work to prevent the risk of fires in the cities as well as to preserve the secrets of the trade. The first member of the family on record is Jacobello in 1295. Two centuries later, Angelo Barovier became a great name creating precious pieces, one of which; the ‘Barovier wedding cup’ is now in the Murano museum and said to date from 1450.” (Barovier & Toso,biography at Rose Uniacke)
Vase, c. 1935/36, Ercole Barovier for Barovier & Toso, XX. Biennale di Venezia, 1936 Sammlung Holz, Berlin, Foto: Atelier Martin Adam, Berlin
The unusual designs by Ercole Barovier or the polychrome “Oriente” vases by painter Dino Martens attest to a great delight in experimentation during the 1950s. The popular “Pezzati”, masterminded by the versatile Fulvio Bianconi, or the sophisticated “Merletti” by Archimede Seguso, stand for excellent artistry and a complete mastery of technical challenges. Fratelli Toso were especially renowned for black glass designs.
Vase “Diamantato“ (Installation view), c. 1968, Ercole Barovier for Barovier & Toso, XXXIV. Biennale di Venezia, 1968,
Sammlung Holz, Berlin, Photo: Anna Seibel
Vase “Siderale”(installation view) c. 1952, Flavio Poli for Seguso Vetri d’Arte, XXVI. Biennale di Venezia, 1952, photo: Anna Seibel
Influenced by Abstract Expressionism, the works by artist Luigi Scarpa Croce are rarely exhibited. The “Rotellato” pieces by Barovier & Toso demonstrate that in the 1960s glass objects were more colorful and decorative, while the shapes became more classical and plain. Finally, in the early 1970s large vessels and simple interlayer techniques produced spectacular results. (Die Neue Sammlung, press)
Among the few international designers represented in shows in Milan and Venice were the Swedish artist Tyra Lundgren, American sculptor Thomas Stearns or the two Swedish designers Birgitta Karlsson and Ove Thorssen. They all worked with Venini, one of the world’s most famous makers of Murano glass.
A beautiful book/catalogue is published for the exhibition:curatorial team: Dr Xenia Reimann and Dr Josef Strasser who developed the exhibition concept with Steffen John (who maintains the Holz collection).