THE VENICE GLASS WEEK is the international festival that the city of Venice dedicates to the art of glass. The fourth edition, #TheHeartOfGlass, will take place from 5th to 13th September 2020. With a programme of exhibitions, demonstrations, guided tours, online events and more, this year’s festival will place a special focus on the “making” of glass: the artistic and productive activity which has been deeply embedded in the Lagoon City’s DNA for over a thousand years, and for which Murano continues to be renowned and celebrated around the world.
Carlo Scarpa, Corrosi, installation view, ph. Ettore Bellini
The overlaying technique is an ancient technique, still widely in use today, obtained by submerging the blown artefact in a crucible with glass of different colour. Cased glass was the mainstay of Venini’s production with Tomaso Buzzi. He was very fond of this technique and explored it with great passion and commitment, and often turned to Venini’s glassblowers for advice. Buzzi devised a new texture consisting of five to seven ultra-thin coloured glass layers enclosing one or two layers of very thin lattimo glass. The new glass material was then decorated with gold leaf. The final result had a previously unseen play of color and a rich and fascinating appearance.
Buzzi’s glass was often pink, green-yellow or grey-blue. These colors characterized the laguna, alga and alba series, while the tramonto items had pinkish-red hues.
Here you can find more information about the glassmaking techniques, so that you can easily recognise them in the works on show in the exhibition!
Mosaic glass: made with fragments of glass (tesserae and/or rod sections) of different colours placed side by side and fused together, it has been in use since the 19th century.
Among the most evocative artefacts designed by Bianconi for Venini are those featuring glass tesserae. A first example of pezzato (patchwork) glass, where the tesserae themselves form the wall of the piece, was exhibited at the 25th Venice Biennale, in 1950. To produce these pezzati, the tesserae, obtained from a cane flattened into a tape and cold-cut, were arranged in a mosaic pattern on a fire stone. Once in the oven, the effect of the heat welded the tesserae together, forming a glass pattern, which was then enclosed in a cylinder to be blown and hot-modelled into the designed form. For the pezzati Bianconi generally opted for unusual forms with flattened cross-sections, which were particularly irregular and were characterised by soft lines, sometimes interrupted by constrictions and protrusions. Most of the pieces in the series are in transparent glass, but there are also examples with opaque tesserae made out of canes with a lattimo nucleus.
Fulvio Bianconi, Vases in Pezzato glass with opaque tessere, 1950-51. Photo: Enrico Fiorese
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’.