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Exhibitions

The Venice Glass Week 2020

Celebrating the resurgence of the Venetian glass sector after months of closure.

Venues in Venice and on the island of Murano
September 5th – 13th 2020

By Anna Sansom / 10th September 2020

Bethan Laura Wood, ‘Chain’, 2020
COURTESY: Studio Visus

THE FOURTH EDITION of The Venice Glass Week is titled #TheHeartOfGlass and it focuses on the making of world-famous Murano glass. Promoted by the Town Council of Venice and organised by several foundations, it provides the opportunity to go on guided tours of ateliers, watch glassblowing demonstrations and visit exhibitions. The local glass artists Davide Salvadore, Lorenzo Passi, Stefano Morasso, Gabriele Urban and Simone Cenedese are among those opening their studios. For glass aficionados unable to travel to Venice, a lineup of conversations is being streamed online.

Exhibition view, ‘Unbreakable: Women in Glass’, 2020
COURTESY: Berengo Studio / PHOTOGRAPH: Francesco Allegretto

The Design Edit’s highlights:

‘Le Stanze del Vetro. Venice and American Studio Glass’ at Fondazione Giorgio Cini
This exhibition explores the influence of Venetian glassmaking techniques on American studios from the 1960s onwards. Curated by Tina Oldknow and William Warmus, former curators of modern and contemporary glass at the Corning Museum of Glass in New York, it assembles 155 works by around 60 American and Venetian artists.

Dale Chihuly, ‘Laguna Murano Chandelier’, 1996
COURTESY: Fondazione Giorgio Cini / PHOTOGRAPH: Enrico Fiorese

Greeting visitors is the vast installation, ‘Laguna Murano Chandelier’ (1996), that Dale Chihuly created with the Venetian master glassblowers Lino Tagliapietra and Pino Signoretto; Chihuly was an early proponent of collaborating with Murano’s glass studios after winning a Fulbright Fellowship in 1968 to work in Venice at the Venini glass factory. Also on view is Richard Marquis’s stool-shaped sculpture, ‘Silhouettes and Stripes Marquicarpa’ (1999), in the colours of the American flag, with animals replacing the white stars, and Nancy Callan’s ‘The Robber’ (2016), of a black-and-white striped snowman.

Richard Marquis, ‘Silhouettes and Stripes Marquicarpa’, 1999
COURTESY: Fondazione Giorgio Cini / PHOTOGRAPH: Enrico Fiorese

‘London – Venice: The Spirit of Resurgence’ at gallery AB4.0 on Murano
WonderGlass, known for merging traditional Italian craftsmanship with contemporary design, is presenting an exhibition of new works by renowned British designers in a bid to lend support to Venetian glassblowing during the COVID-19 crisis. Maurizio Mussati, founder of London-headquartered WonderGlass – whose Italian partners have been badly affected by the pandemic, hopes to convey “a vibrant resolution” to renew traditions.

Bethan Laura Wood, ‘Chain’, 2020
COURTESY: Studio Visus

Stealing the show are Bethan Laura Wood’s striking low tables, ‘Chain’, made by linking numerous golden glass bars through transparent rectangular rings. These are joined by Tom Dixon’s curvilinear works, ‘Slump’; Ross Lovegrove’s ‘Oneness’ bulbous sculptures; the architect John Pawson’s frosted, tubular lighting, ‘Floor Horizon’ and ‘Horizon’, and Industrial Facility (Kim Colin and Sam Hecht)’s ‘Plateau’ tumblers.

Tom Dixon, ‘Slump’, 2020
COURTESY: Studio Visus

‘Unbreakable: Women in Glass’ at Fondazione Berengo Art Space on Murano
Koen Vanmechelen has collaborated with Adriano Berengo, owner of Fondazione Berengo, for over two decades. This year, the artist has teamed up with the curator Nadja Romain to focus on women artists. “During the COVID-19 crisis, the world needs a more feminine view to see how we can rebuild society to be concerned about our environment; this is a fragile exhibition about life, rebirth and looking to the future at the new reality we’re facing,” Vanmechelen says.

Monica Bonvicini, ‘In My Hand’, 2019
COURTESY: Monica Bonvicini & Berengo Studio / PHOTOGRAPH: Francesco Allegretto

The eclectic “melting-pot” of works by 64 international artists is housed in the masculine environment of a Murano glass furnace. The show opens with Monica Bonvicini’s ‘In My Hand’ (2019) – a pair of hands holding a belt, relating to intimidation and the #MeTooMovement versus self-empowerment, and ends with Lucy Orta’s ‘Masking’ (2020), an animal mask sculpture which resonates with mask-wearing.

Lucy Orta, ‘Masking’ (detail), 2020
COURTESY: Lucy Orta & Berengo Studio / PHOTOGRAPH: Francesco Allegretto

Along the way are Nancy Burson’s text sculpture, ‘DNA Has No Color’ (2019), alluding to racism and Black Lives Matter, as well as lighter works such as Marya Kazoun’s ‘Wandering Stars’ (2020) – a star suspended in the centre of a circle of glass slippers, Laure Prouvoust’s ‘Vegetables Falling From the Sky Chandelier’ (2020) and Chiara Dynys’ bookcase sculpture, ‘Enlightening Books’ (2018).

Hub Under 35 in Istituto Veneto di Scienze at Palazzo Loredan
Young creatives are moving the medium of glass forward in unique ways. This is recognised by Hub Under 35 who have selected experimental projects by 12 international artists and designers under the age of 35. Carlo Scanferlato, a recent MA in Design Products graduate from the Royal College of Art, is presenting ‘Off the Dust’. Taking Murano craftsmanship into the realm of high-tech, it features a home speaker, ‘Arsenale 01’, made with Murano glass and touch controls.

Carlo Scanferlato, ‘Off the Dust’, 2020
COURTESY: Hub Under 35

Matteo Silverio & Stefano Bullo are also innovating with Murano glass: the shape of their ‘Touch-me!’ vase can be manipulated and customised by the user thanks to its tactile formation of triangular geometry.

The collective fucina frammenti (Clara Accebbi, Michele Perissinotto, Elia Venturini and Alessandro Zannoni, all graduates from Iuav University of Venice), meanwhile, is exploring how to recycle leftovers of Murano glass. With the advice from BTM engineering consultants, fucina frammenti has made a series of four lighting objects, ‘Galotte’, by recycling scraps from the cut of blown-glass products, restoring their nobility.

The Venice Glass Week

ONLINE! Conversations, Award Ceremonies, Demonstrations and more

Le Stanze del Vetro. Venice and American Studio Glass at Fondazione Giorgio Cini runs until January 10th 2021.

‘Unbreakable: Women in Glass’ at Fondazione Berengo Art Space runs until January 7th 2012.

Hub under 35 runs from the 5th – 13th September 2020.

Article By

Anna Sansom
Anna Sansom is a Paris-based journalist who writes about art, design and architecture for The Art Newspaper, Frame, Damn and Sotheby's Magazine, among other publications.