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Heading to Venice? Don’t miss the first international festival that celebrates glass making

The festival aims to educate visitors regarding Venice’s rich glass making history, and bring the traditional practice back into contemporary craft practice.

art and culture Updated: Aug 10, 2017 15:27 IST
‘WAGON’. Domitilla Harding, 2017
‘WAGON’. Domitilla Harding, 2017(AFP)

Venice Glass Week is the first international festival dedicated to the medium. Institutions throughout Venice will participate in the event aimed at revitalizing the city’s signature art, with particular focus on production in Murano. “Much like the city itself, Venice’s glassmaking industry is in grave danger of collapse,” noted The Art Newspaper, citing the prominence of cheaper alternatives, declining numbers of young glassblowers, and a shift in taste away from the Murano glass aesthetic.

The festival is organised by three Venetian institutions--the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, and the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti -- and is promoted by the Town Council of Venice. The Consorzio Promovetro Murano, which manages the Vetro Artistico Murano trademark, is also involved.

The festival aims to educate visitors regarding Venice’s rich glassmaking history, and bring the traditional practice back into contemporary craft practice. The city-wide event includes more than 140 exhibitions, conferences, screenings, workshops, open furnaces, and more.

‘Mediterraneo.’ Gaetano Pesce, 2005. (AFP)

One headlining event is “Vittorio Zecchin: Transparent Glass for Cappellin and Venini,” at the dedicated glass study center at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini. The show has 250 hand-blown works designed by Zecchin between 1921 and 1926. The venue will also feature American artist Pae White’s luminous sculpture “Qwalala”, a curved wall formed from three thousand hand-cast bricks in 26 colors in an outdoor installation. Other major exhibitions include “Gaetano Pesce: Five glassmaking techniques” and “Dino Martens: Painter and Designer,” both at the Murano Glass Museum.

‘Augusto’. Giberto Arrivabene. (AFP)

Venice’s economic problems have limited contemporary designers’ involvement with the city’s furnaces, compounded by high management costs related to production and quality maintenance. However, as The Art Newspaper points out, the international market has shown strong sales. At Christie’s New York arm, in 2016 and 2017, a private European collection of Carlo Scarpa works and the collection of Chiara and Francesco Carraro both sold very well.

‘Qwalala’, installation view, Venice. Pae White, 2017 (AFP)

Moreover, at this year’s Venice Biennale (which remains on view until November 26, 2017), the French artist Loris Gréaud has taken over an abandoned glass furnace with “The Unplayed Notes Factory”, a performance piece featuring glassblowers working around the clock. The first edition of Venice Glass Week will take place from September 10-17, 2017.

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