The Venice Glass Week

The Venice Glass Week

Author: Francesca Iani

The Venice Glass Week: the glass of Murano dresses for party

A warm fall is predicted in Venice. Beside the Architecture Biennial and the Film Festival, the city is excited for the upcoming opening of the exposition dedicated to glass art of Murano. After the success of the first edition, which registered more than 75,000 visitors in 2017, The Venice Glass Week, the international festival dedicated to glass art, is proposed again from 9 to 16 September 2018.

The exposition wishes to celebrate artistic glass with events promoted by some of the main cultural realities of the city. Seven days of exhibitions, events, and seminars, dedicated to artistic glass in a city that lives glass art more than any other.

It begins on Saturday 8 September, at the Murano Glass Museum, with the vernissage of the show “Mario Bellini for Murano”. Following this show is the much-awaited exhibition “The glassware M.V.M. Cappellin and the youngster Carlo Scarpa 1925-1931”, curated by Marino Barovier at “The Glass Rooms” on the island of San Giorgio. Study days of Venetian Glass are planned as well, during which experts and enthusiasts from all over the world will compare and contrast the different techniques of manufacturing glass, and the itineraries for discovering the glass of Murano, accessing ovens and laboratories usually forbidden for the public. The common objective of the festival is to add value to the most important artistic activity of the city.

Today the glass business is active more than ever on the territory of Venice, and especially on the island of Murano: as of now, 150 companies have employed more than 1,100 workers, generating a yearly income of more than 165 million euros.

Artisan practices and avant-garde industrial techniques stand side by side and form the union that has characterized the Italian glassware tradition for centuries. As an important branch of luxury products and as synonym for Italian Style, glass art is at present exported throughout the world, though preserving its fulcrum in the small Venetian island, where everything originated in the 8th century.

While retracing the development of glass art backwards, the apex of success has been reached by all means in 1900, when the factories in Murano agreed to collaborate with artists and designers. Worthy of mention is the sculptor Napoleone Martinuzzi, creator of a new type of glass in the 1930s, opaque and thick, namely the renowned “Pulegoso”, characterized by the inclusion of countless air bubbles (‘puleghe’ in Italian), with which he realized many well-known pieces. Over the years, artists such as Guido Cadorin, Umberto Bellotto, Carlo Scarpa, Flavio Poli for the Seguso Vetri d’Arte contributed to the glass production industry always more frequently. Participations in Biennials and in many other international exhibitions, with the consequent attainments of prizes and recognitions, recurred as well.

Venini chose to aim at retrieving traditional techniques in contemporary terms, epitomizing the avant-garde of Murano’s productions, and taking out of the oven objects of everlasting success. Directed from 1932 to 1947 by Carlo Scarpa, and then by Fulvio Bianconi, the Venini factory witnessed the alternation of numerous artists and designers, both Italian and foreign, such as Ludovico de Santillana and Toni Zuccheri. Famous in those years were also the ovens – the Archimede Seguso and the Salviati – working for the re-interpretation of ancient technical notes of glassmaking.

If the 1900s have been the golden age of glass art, the last few decades have seen the rise of various projects to give value to an important resource of the territory: from the restyling and expansion of the Murano Glass Museum, to the long-standing cultural project “The Glass Rooms”, through other events like “The Days of Venetian Glass”, the prize “Glass in Venice”, and the latest “Venice Glass Week”.

Why is Murano glass on top of people’s wish lists and of auction quotations?

20th-century Italian design furniture and Murano glass are by now collectibles craved in the whole world, above all in Europe and in the USA. Especially, yet not only, in Italy, internationally renowned auction houses have planned, always more constantly in the recent years, auctions dedicated exclusively to this sector. Murano glass keeps drawing the attention of new collectors. One of the latest American auctions, dedicated entirely to Italian glass, reached a total of 2,741 million dollars, with 80% of the lots sold.
What are the reasons for international collecting? It is true that glass is a type of material that has fascinated men since the ancient times, and that collecting glass has always been an uninterrupted activity. However, the fact that glass masters of Murano offered to a few artists the opportunity to collaborate together with them at the beginning of the century surely contributed to create extraordinary pieces that marked the beginning of the modern artistic language and the openness to the international market.

Which are the pieces that an aspiring collector or enthusiast should keep an eye on?

Surely Venini’s vases, produced between 1920 and 1950, have a huge success. The creations of Ercole Barovier, and the vases realized by Flavio Poli for Seguso as well. Very refined and rare are some pieces designed by Dino Martens for Aureliano Toso. Do not miss out on the celebrated pieces of Fulvio Bianconi: one of his creations of the 1950s has just been sold for 120,000 dollars.

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