‘Tessuto’ vase, 1985
This vase marks a critical moment in the career of the leading Italian glass artist, Lino Tagliapietra.
Born in 1934 on Murano, the Venetian island with a tradition of glassmaking dating back seven centuries, it was almost inevitable that, as a boy, Tagliapietra should be apprenticed to the trade. Aged twelve, he became a ‘garzonetto’ to the innovative glass blower, Archimede Seguso, himself the scion of an ancient glassmaking dynasty. Seguso became a leading figure in the creative revival of Venetian glass in the twentieth century, rediscovering ancient techniques and turning them to new purposes. Tagliapietra moved from here, in the 1950s, to the studio of Vetreria Galliano Ferro, becoming a Maestro, or Master of Glass, in his own right in 1957.
Tagliapietra too had a taste for old techniques, attempting to recreate the historical pieces he admired in the Murano Glass Museum. The young glassblower was, however, equally inspired by the contemporary art on view every other year at the Venice Biennale – especially the work of the great American Abstract Expressionists Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, and their younger fellow-countryman, Ellsworth Kelly. The conjunction of these interests is clear in this tremendous vase, which employs the ancient technique of ‘filigrana’, laying rods of differently coloured glass side by side, to create an abstract, woven, pattern, overlaid with patches of brilliant colour, that owes as much to contemporary art as to glass-making tradition. The technical mastery required to blow a vessel of this scale is matched by the expressive beauty of the design.
Working his way up through the leading glass factories, winning prizes for excellence, in 1968 Tagliapietra became Primo Maestro at La Murrina glasswork, specialising in lamps and other products. It was that same year that the leading American glass artist, Dale Chihuly made a visit to Murano. He and Tagliapietra engaged in an intense exchange of skills and knowledge, transforming the work of both men and enabling the dissemination of their two national traditions among their colleagues, between and across continents. It was not, however, until 1979 that Tagliapietra made his first visit, in return, to the United States, when he was invited by Chihuly to teach at his Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington. Pilchuk, founded in 1971, was a pioneering centre for the nascent studio glass movement in the United States. It was from Chihuly that Tagliapietra gained the confidence to move from production work to creating art pieces. The series of ‘Tessuto’ vases from the early 1980s represent the first full expression of his independent, artistic studio glassmaking. This example is coming up for sale at Lyon and Turnbull in London in their Modern Made sale next Friday 30th April, estimate £6,000 – £8,000.
MODERN MADE | Modern Art & Post-War Design is at Lyon & Turnbull on Friday, 30th April, at 10.00 am, Mall Galleries, London. Sale number: 636.