Glassmaking is one of the most important artisanal trades in Venice. The industry has been around since 846 and has a strong tie with Murano since 1291. To revive and promote the art of glassmaking, The Venice Glass Week was launched in 2017. It was conceived by Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti and Consorzio Promovetro Murano and is promoted by the Town Council of Venice. The third edition of this international event will take place from September 7 to 15, 2019.
If you love Murano glass or if you want to know more about the artisans and the glassmaking process, this event is certainly worth attending. There is a wide variety of activities to choose from. Many exhibitions will even continue after The Venice Glass Week, so you can still visit them in the coming months.
In this post, I will focus on a selection of events of the 2018 edition of The Venice Glass Week. I will also introduce you to glass artist Lorenzo Passi and explain how he creates his masterpieces. If you want to know more about the history and process of glassmaking, you can find plenty of information in my post ‘Murano glassmasters: artisans or artists?’.
A wide range of activities at The Venice Glass Week 2018
There are more than 180 events scheduled for this year’s Venice Glass Week. The activities are spread across Murano, Venice, San Giorgio Maggiore and Mestre. There are exhibitions in museums, in galleries and in shops. Several glassmasters open their furnaces for the public. You can attend conferences, musical evenings or video projections and join glass workshops or guided visits. If you are sportive, you can even run across Murano, following a candle-lit course lit which passes through 6 fully operating furnaces.
I had a look at the long list of activities to pick a few which I personally find very interesting. This selection is far from complete and only intends to give you an idea of the variety of activities. Hence, don’t forget to check the official website of The Venice Glass Week to discover all the other events.
The M.V.M. Cappellin Glassworks and the Young Carlo Scarpa 1925-1931 – Le Stanze del Vetro
September 10 – January 6, 2019
The exhibition at the glass museum on San Giorgio Maggiore focuses on the start of the career of the famous Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa. It also shows the history of the glassworks of Cappellin. This renowned glassmaster from Murano is known for his exceptional quality, both in the glass techniques used (from transparent glass to the extraordinary opaque glass) and the elegant and modern design of the objects. Starting from 1926, Carlo Scarpa worked as a glass artist for Giacomo Cappellin until 1931. Although Scarpa often acted as interpreter of Cappellin himself, he gradually started to develop his own designs. These were characterized by the use of geometrical forms.
You can combine your trip to San Giorgio Maggiore with a visit to the Open Glass Archives, organized by the Centro Studi del Vetro on the occasion of The Venice Glass Week. And even though there is no link with glass, you shouldn’t miss the Vatican Chapels in the park next to the museum. I found these very impressive as you can read here: ‘Review of the Architecture Biennale 2018: Holy See’.
La Pelle del Vetro. Carlo Scarpa alla Venini 1936-1942 – Negozio Olivetti
September 9 – January 6, 2019
Another opportunity to discover the work of Carlo Scarpa is by paying a visit to the Olivetti shop on the Piazza San Marco. This exhibition is dedicated to his work for Venini, another major glassmaster in Murano where he also worked 6 years. The 15 objects, vases and cups, all come from private collections. The exhibition illustrates how Carlo Scarpa worked, with a lot of attention to the surface of the objects and the final decoration. He did not limit himself to the traditional Venetian methods of glassmaking, but also invented new ways of working in his search for aesthetic refinement. The setting of the glass exhibition in a shop which was also designed by Carlo Scarpa makes this event even more special. You can read more about this project and other architectural works of Carlo Scarpa in my post ‘Explore Venice in the steps of Carlo Scarpa’.
Murano Glass Beyond the Barricades – Bugno Art Gallery di Venezia
September 9 – 16
Murano glass is often associated with decorative objects such as vases or chandeliers, or table accessories such as glasses. For this exhibition however, 13 glassmasters (amongst which Berengo Studio, Gambaro & Tagliapietra, Seguso Gianni and Tiozzo Sergio) demonstrate their creativity and artistic skills by transforming safety jerseys in a work of glass art. They use a combination of ancient and innovative glass working techniques: from blown glass to solid glass, from plate processing to cast glass processing to the Tiffany technique and from traditional to artistic processing. The project shows the communicative power of the Murano glass art and its innovative strength to interpret contemporary themes in a disruptive way. The artworks include fish that swim upstream in a fountain, a marine jersey that divides the healthy sea from the polluted, but also peacocks set in precious mosaics, and colourful flowers.
MAESTRI AND GLASS ARTISTS
Open furnace of Simone Cenedese
September 10 – 14
A glassmaster (maestro) is without doubt the most respected artisan in Murano. This honorary title can only be earned by the recognition by other glassmasters, glass experts, glass lovers, the glass community or, at least, by his master and by the respect of his team at the furnace. During The Venice Glass Week, Maestro Simone Cenedese (who is also participating in the Barricades exhibition) opens his furnace to the public. He will demonstrate his glassmaking techniques which were handed down from father to son. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to watch a maestro at work. You can also admire the glass works which he designed and created for this occasion.
Meet the glass artist Lorenzo Passi
Plenty of Italian as well as international artists are participating in The Venice Glass Week. I can’t list all of them, even though they will all present beautiful pieces of art at one or more exhibitions.
One artist who I would like to introduce to you however is Lorenzo Passi. Born in Milan, his enthusiasm for glass began in 2005, after graduating from the Francesco Arcangeli Art Institute in Bologna. At the age of 20, he started his Murano apprenticeship in the well-known glass workshops of Archimede Seguso and Oscar Zanetti. There, he learned the techniques for manufacturing blown and solid-worked glass. In 2009, he moved to Finland to continue his studies on glass at the Lasikoulu (glass school) in Nuutajärvi. He experimented with combining various materials, such as glass and wood, or glass and metal. The latter combination became the distinctive mark of his future work. Lorenzo moved to Venice in 2011 where he started working under Maestro Giovanni Nicola, heir to Maestro Archimede Seguso. He made his debut as a glass artist in 2013. If you attended the first edition of The Venice Glass Week in 2017, you might have seen his ‘Kosmos’ exhibition at Ca’ Zenobio.
To freely express his emotions in an artistic way, Lorenzo Passi prefers to work with glass as his material of choice. Feelings change constantly, so these are a perfect impulse to challenge himself and to create new and different things. Lorenzo is especially interested in the dimension of memory. His sculptures reflect upon the past and on the inevitable loss of the data upon which they are built. These memories are then transformed and consecrated for a new memory. Even though drawing and sketches could help to structure his thoughts and to put order in his creative process, he usually applies a hands-on approach instead. Ideas gradually develop in his mind until he can visualize a clear picture of the final installation. He then combines these ideas with his knowledge about handling glass and metal (or other raw materials) and uses his technical skills to compose his work of art.
During The Venice Glass Week, you can admire his work at 5 different locations. In his studio at Corte Mosto (San Marco 3853), you can see the installation ‘Radici – Roots’. It stems from a quest for identity, a desire to establish deep roots. Lorenzo took a tree stump from a place where his ancestors lived and used it as a mold to create cubic modules of various colours. For the Autonoma project, he created a chandelier together with Dara Alper, an American glass artist. The chandelier is called ‘Rubar co l’ocio’, which is Venetian dialect for ‘Stealing with your eye’. Lorenzo was also selected for the Homo Faber exhibition, which is dedicated to European craftsmanship. You can discover his work ‘Eterno Cantiere #2’ from the series ‘Disinganno, Disillusion’ at the Fondazione Cini. Finally, several of his art works are exhibited at the bookshop of the Glass Museum in Murano and in the Arnoldo Battois shop near Campo San Luca.
Glass Together workshop with Alessia Fuga
September 10 – 15
Lampworking is a special technique for the creation of small glass objects. Instead of a furnace, a torch or lamp is used to melt the glass. During The Venice Glass Week, you can join one of the lampworking workshops of Alessia Fuga. She will give you an introduction to the production of glass art so you can try to master the glass yourself. I strongly recommend this activity. I followed a workshop with Alessia last year and it was so much fun. You can read about my experience in ‘Murano glassmasters: artisans or artists?’. Both adults and children can take part, but reservation is necessary as places are limited. You can however always pass by her workshop to take a look through the open window at how the participants are doing.
Picnic and visit to Honey Garden and Giorgio Giuman furnace
The Honey Garden (Giardino di Miele) was planted by Judi Harvest as part of the ‘Denatured: Honeybees + Murano Glass’ exhibition for the 2013 Art Biennale. It is located behind the Giorgio Giuman glassworks in Murano. The goal was to increase awareness about two endangered species: the bees and the Murano glass industry. Now, five years later, her 4 bee colonies have become 8 and the glass factory continues to produce. This year is the fifth annual picnic and the second that takes part in The Venice Glass Week. It’s a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature and the glass of Murano.
The Rio Sounds Glass: An Evening of Music and Entertainment
Many glass shops, workshops, bars and restaurants are located along the Rio dei Vetrai in Murano. On this evening, the shops will stay open until late in the evening. This gives you plenty of time to admire the typical glass art of Murano. You can also enjoy a prosecco or spritz, taste delicious cicchetti or Venetian food while listening to the musical performances. The last vaporetto back to Venice doesn’t leave until 23.47 (vaporetto stop Murano Museo), so there’s no need to rush.
Embark Il Nuovo Trionfo for a visit to Murano
September 14 – 15
If you want to immerse yourself in the traditional production process of glass, this unique activity is perfect for you. Il Nuovo Trionfo, a trabacollo, dates from 1926 and was used for the supply of raw materials (sand and timber) for the processing of glass. It is the last boat of this type which is still sailing and part of the maritime history of Venice. The historic boat has been thoroughly restored in recent months. It now lies in front of Punta della Dogana. You can exceptionally embark it for your trip to or from Murano. During the trip, you will get the opportunity to talk with glass experts. Upon arrival in Murano, you can also watch a demonstration at a furnace.
If you want to support the further restoration of Il Nuovo Trionfo, you can join Gli Amici del Il Nuovo Trionfo. You will then also be informed about special events such as this one. You can find more information about this in my post ’10 original Venice related gifts and experiences’.
As mentioned before, this selection gives you a glimpse of the impressive set of activities organized for The Venice Glass Week. Make sure to check the other ones on the official website, as well as all practical information such as addresses and opening times.
Enjoy your visit!
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