Up to the her last day Laura de Santillana worked at her creations: at 5.30pm yesterday she had the joy of seeing the images of her last work which she carried out from her bed. Some hours later the ‘la donna del vetro’, as Ida Cadorin called her, was no longer with us. During her illness she curated two exhibitions, in Milan and Venice, and had planned every detail of her Spring exhibition at the MusVerre of Sars-Poteries in France, working all the time. So passes one of the artists who finally freed the art of glass from its subordinate position among the decorative arts: in all her works Laura de Santillana created non only glass but sculptures.
The curator and gallery director Jean Blanchaert remembers her as follows: ‘Laura Diaz de Santillana, a sculptor in glass, was a grand-daughter of Paolo Venini, one of the great Italians of the 20th century, the man who gave a new life to the glass of Venice. Paolo Venini was an entrepreneur-artist. Laura’s father, Ludovico Diaz de Santillana, on the other hand, was an artist-entrepreneur, who was faced with the task of directing the glassworks in the 1970s, a more complicated time from the financial point of view. Laura and her brother Alessandro grew up in this magical Murano world where great artists and master-glassmakers dreamed in glass. For the two siblings, the loss of the Venini company was paradoxically a stroke of good fortune because in this way they were able to dedicate themselves to their own artistic work and not to the massive bureaucratic tasks that the management of a production facility inevitably entails. Laura, who knew all about glass, became ever more informal while never forgetting form. Her mother-tongue was the language of the tribe of glass because glass was in her blood and her DNA. None of the glassmaking techniques was foreign to her and she never betrayed the material that was always her artistic medium, wherever she might be, in Venice, Seattle or Prague. Her crystal-clear soul and her ethics-aesthetics leave a huge void not only in the world of glass but also in the world of art and of her relations and friends’.