Category Archives: Murano Glass Today

Exhibition Presents Murano Glass Art by Giampaolo Seguso

It is rare to see the very best of artistic Murano Glass created by prominent Venetian artists outside of Venice, let alone in the United States. For a short time this May and June all lovers and collectors of Murano Glass in the United States can enjoy a wonderful exhibition of Murano Glass Art at Bellarmine Museum of Art at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut. The exhibition features 33 beautiful glass art pieces by Giampaolo Seguso, a member of the renowned Seguso dynasty—a family which has been crafting glass on the island of Murano for over 600 years! The legacy of glass work goes back twenty-two generations in the Seguso family, and has garnered them international acclaim.

The pieces on display are each accompanied by a poem by Giampaolo Seguso himself, which reflects of the meaning of existence, nature, and beauty, merging together Seguso’s gifts for visual, as well as verbal arts. It is so rare to capture beauty in one medium, but Seguso ambitiously endeavors to capture it doubly, creating something new and profound. The name of the exhibition, La Ragnatela, is Italian for “spider web,” referring to Filigrana technique of glass-making invented on Murano in the 16th century. This complex technique uses glass canes that are positioned parallel to each other and then melted together so as to create delicate spiral or web-like patterns within the glass. Seguso was so enchanted by the endless artistic possibilities offered by Filigrana technique that he authored the book, La Ragnatela, published in 2001, which is the culmination of his research and personal application of the Murano Filigrana technique. Like all in-demand artists, Giampaolo Seguso and his art have traveled the world, holding exhibitions in Norway, Germany, and Brazil.

La Ragnatela presentation can be visited at the Bellarmine Museum of Art at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut. This exquisite exhibition opened its doors on April 10th and will continue to wow the collectors and those interested in Murano Glass until June 13, 2014, so make plans to see it soon.

by Kevin Grinberg

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Murano Glass Exhibition in New York Metropolitan Museum

Murano Glass Exhibition in New YorkWhile Murano Glass is ancient and famous art known well beyond the borders of Murano Island, unfortunately it is rare to see a major Murano Glass exhibition outside of Venice, Italy. It is even rarer to see one in a world-class museum, so we are delighted to let you know about the new exhibition opening up in Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York dedicated to the art of famous architect and modernizing force in Murano Glass, Carlo Scarpa. Called “Venetian Glass by Carlo Scarpa. The Venini Company, 1932–1947” this exhibition illustrates how Carlo Scarpa led the way in breaking the mold of classic Murano Glass making and bringing out new facets of this ancient art in line with the changing times.

Carlo Scarpa was a talented Venetian architect who became familiar with the medium of glass and skilled at glass-making while working at famous MVM Capellin Glassworks on Murano Island for five years. Scarpa was fascinated with the possibilities that the medium of glass offered to an artist with its fluid nature, transparency and color. Having learned the intricacies of glass-blowing, Scarpa was invited to work at one of the most famous glass companies on Murano at the time, Venini, in the role of artistic consultant. Scarpa’s talent quickly became obvious in this job ,where he promoted innovative techniques that built on the solid foundation of ancient art but took it to new levels, achieving the colors, shapes and designs beyond anything created by Murano masters before. Venini Glassworks enjoyed great success with Scarpa’s innovations, showcasing his works at prestigious international exhibitions and gaining global fame.

The exhibition at Metropolitan Museum is organized chronologically and by technique, featuring new takes on traditional Murano decorative techniques. Among others you will see colorful objects created in Bullicante technique where carefully controlled pattern of small bubbles is introduced into the glass, as well as trendy pieces made in elaborate and labor-intensive Filligrana and iconic Murrina (aka Millefiori) techniques. Streamlined shapes, elegance and bold colors characterize many of the pieces and highlight their contemporary appeal.

The exhibition at New York’s world-famous Metropolitan Museum of Art will be running from November 5, 2013 through March 2, 2014 and is certainly not to be missed. We highly recommend visiting it for a unique opportunity to see the artistic value of Murano Glass up close and appreciate its transformation to a contemporary art form evolving in step with modern times.

by Kevin Grinberg

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History and Grandeur of Murano Glass Chandeliers

Murano Glass ChandelierVery few objects are so recognizable the world over and have been the symbols and statements of wealth for so long as Venetian Glass Chandeliers. In the 17th century, when Venice was a mighty and rich maritime republic, Venetian nobility and merchants strived to outperform each other in demonstrating their power and wealth. Murano Glass industry flourished with talented glass masters rushing to create ever more elaborate articles of interior design to satisfy demand from their rich clientele. In addition to elegant mirrors, elaborate goblets, and gold-accented tableware, the glass masters created new designs of lighting fixtures. Replacing the unattractive and unwieldy wooden and wrought iron chandeliers of the past, the new chandeliers appeared airy, translucent, sparkly, and were richly decorated for a grand opulent look.

It was in those times that one of the mightiest Venetian families of the 17th century, Rezzonico, was building their magnificent residence, Ca’ Rezzonico, overlooking the Grand Canal. Designed by Giorgio Massari, a well-known Venetian architect, and decorated by the best artists and artisans in Venice, the palace featured beautiful façade, a grand staircase, and an unusual grandiose ballroom. The uniquely constructed soaring ceiling in the Ballroom was created by eliminating the second floor in part of the building. As a highlight of this grandeur, around 1730 Rezzonico family ordered a chandelier from Murano masters, which had to fit the regal atmosphere of the residence. Using all of their technical skills and knowledge, Murano Glass masters in the factory of Giuseppe Briati created a gorgeous two-tier masterpiece in rare polychrome glass featuring twenty candle-holders. This chandelier is the most amazing such chandelier still in existence today and it still hangs in its original room in Ca’ Rezzonico where tourists can now admire its beauty.
Murano Glass Chandelier
Moreover, this Rezzonico chandelier was so beautiful and famous that it gave rise to the entire style of Murano Glass chandeliers called Rezzonico, which is still produced in Murano Glass workshops. Rezzonico style, always in high demand for residences, hotels, restaurants, luxury boats and public spaces, is characterized by opulent detailing of stems and cups, elaborate floral elements, gorgeous colors, gold decoration, and grand multi-tier structure. Other classic Venetian chandeliers created by Murano masters today continue the famous Murano Glass chandelier tradition of the late 16th – early 17th century with translucent or colorful glass, lush decorative elements, and use of 24K gold and genuine silver leaf for gorgeous and unique look. Recently, more modern and trendy chandelier designs have also become popular, reflecting contemporary artistic trends and search for leaner forms, bolder colors, and more minimalistic styles.

Murano Glass masters have always stood apart from all their competitors around the world not only because of the superior quality of their glass creations, but also thanks to their unique ability to reinvent themselves and their craft while remaining true to the artistic heritage of Venice and traditions of their forefathers. While experimenting with new styles, decorative techniques, and artistic trends, Murano glassmakers carry on the classical traditions of craftsmanship and quality that made them world-famous since the ancient times. Today the descendants of the famous glass artisans of the centuries past continue to create gorgeous chandeliers and other pieces of art glass appreciated by even the most discerning modern-day customers.

by Kevin Grinberg

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Murano Glass Exhibitions in Venice

Venice never ceases to amaze tourists not only with its unique beauty but also with the richness of its cultural heritage and the many museums and exhibitions that offer insights into Venetian history and art. Murano glass art has recently been in the spotlight, and two current exhibitions in Venice celebrate the contribution of two very prominent Murano glass creators – the Venini glassworks and Lino Tagliapietra – to the 20th century renaissance of this ancient Venetian art form.

The first exhibition dedicated to 90 years of Venini family glassworks is called NOVANTESIMO VENINI, 1921 – 2011, and is open until July 10, 2011 at the Murano Glass Museum. It highlights in chronological order the achievements of the famous Venetian glass masters from Venini Glass Company in the time span from 1921 through 2011 and features about 100 works characteristics of various artistic periods in the life of the company.

In another very exciting development, the first ever exhibition of the masterpieces created by world-famous Murano glass master Lino Tagliapetra is set up in Venice and will stay open until May 22, 2011 to the delight of all Venetian glass and Tagliapietra fans. The exhibition is housed in beautiful Grand Canal Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti, the home of Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere e Arti and features a selection of the best art glass pieces created by the master in the last decade. Lino Tagliapietra, who was born in Murano, Italy in 1934, is one of the most prominent Venetian glass masters currently working, and his creations can be seen in galleries, museums, public spaces and private collections around the world.

If you are in Venice this Spring and Summer, we highly recommend that you visit one or both of these exhibitions for a rare in-depth look at the modern interpretation of the ancient art form that is so unique and characteristic of Venice.

To learn more about Murano glass history and techniques, please visit GlassOfVenice.com

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Glass Jewelry: replacement for the ‘real stuff’ or a value in itself?

Time changes everything, including our perceptions of what is valuable. Modern jewelry made of glass is considered ‘costume’ jewelry, or a replacement of the ‘real thing’ – made of precious stones. But that was not always the case. When Egyptians buried their adored king Tutankhamun in 1323 BC, they buried him with two famous necklaces: “necklace of the sun”, created from glass beads mixed with those made from gold and carnelian, and the ‘vulture collar’, made of solid gold inlaid with pieces of multicolored glass.

History of glass jewelry is the history of glass making itself, since the early glass was used almost exclusively as body ornament. Although scientists cannot agree if the oldest glass beads were made in Egypt or Mesopotamia, the oldest beads discovered by archeologists were found in Egypt and date to 12,000BC. They were simple and fairly crude beads made of clay with glass glaze.

Ancient Egyptians valued glass and glass jewelry enough to decorate their pharaohs with it. There is no doubt that pharaohs could afford ‘the real thing’, but there is a dispute if Egyptians used glass jewelry because they valued it so highly, or because they wanted to cheat grave robbers. Considering how difficult glass making was at that time and how rare was the knowledge of glass making, it is not difficult to believe that the glass jewelry was considered to be in the same league as that made from precious stones.

Another reason to believe the value ancient Egyptians afforded to glass jewelry is the quality of the workmanship and artistry invested in making pieces that survived to this day. The necklaces in Tutankhamen’s tomb were made of solid gold and glass was placed instead of precious stones not because of their lack, but because of intrinsic value they afforded to glass in its own right.
Since both Egyptians and Phoenicians used glass beads for trade, they were soon found all over the world, and with them the knowledge of their manufacture. Greek, Etruscan, Roman, Bohemian, Chinese and Indian glass makers started producing high quality glass beads and other objects.

But, it was not until 14th century that murano glass bead-making reached its zenith in Murano, Italy. Murano glass artisans perfected the lampworking technique – glass rod heated with an oil lamp with a glass chimney. Molten glass was formed by blowing or shaping it with different tools and hand movements. Murano glass makers came up with a number of different bead making techniques that are today used all over the world. One of the most famous – millefiori, or thousand flowers – is today almost the synonym with murano glass bead making.

It is interesting that glass beads play important role in many cultures all over the world – from Africa to Borneo in Malaysia, but the glass beads for the tribal jewelry always had to be imported. Many Dayak ladies in Borneo are decorated with bead necklaces that have been in their family for generations, but the ladies would be very surprised to find out that the beads for them came very probably from Murano. And they are not the only ones: artisans all over the world importing famous murano glass beads and create unique glass jewelry according to their own artistic preferences and ideals. The world is becoming a very small place indeed.

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Murano Glass School – From Murano to the World

Humans have been making glass objects for thousands of years. Whether it was Egyptians or Phoenicians who were the first to create beautiful glass objects from simple silica sand, it was not until Murano glass artists united on the small island near Venice that the glass-making reached the peak of its creativity. Murano glass artists came up with a whole range of techniques of manipulating glass into breathtakingly beautiful objects that for more than thousand years are the synonym with magnificent glass. But, it is not only techniques that became famous exports from Murano. It was also a unique way of looking at the glass and incorporating artistic expression with possibilities that glass as a medium offers.

Through centuries, Murano glass artists have been adapting to the change in styles and customers’ demands, to produce, and even dictate, the glass art style. But, Murano is not exporting only its famous glass art objects and techniques used even today all over the world. They are also exporting the knowledge, through a number of famous murano glass art schools. One of the most famous is Abate Zanetti Glass School in Murano, an offshoot of the murano glass design school created in the 1860’s.

Abate Zanetti Glass School was created to serve young people of Murano island who wish to continue in their fathers’ and grandfathers’ footsteps. But, the school created so much interest that now it offers also short-term courses, for all skill levels, as short as a weekend and as long as few weeks. The classes are taught by the best glass-makers of Murano such as maestro Pino Signoretto. Each course is booked a long time in advance, by glass artists and glass enthusiasts from all over the world.

The School continues in the footsteps of one of the historic glass art institutions in Murano, the Drawing School for Murano glassworkers, established in 1862 by the Abbott Vincenzo Zanetti.

The building which houses the school is part of Murano glass history as well. Originally built in the 1930’s, it has been restored to preserve the original character of the traditional Venetian palace. Regardless of its traditional looks, it is built as a school, with big rooms for classes and exhibitions, a hall for lectures, beautiful garden and well-equipped library.

The mission of the Abate Zanetti Glass School is to remain the guardian of old Murano glass traditions and is quickly gaining reputation as a central point of Glass art in Murano. In the school, famous glass-making families share their knowledge and trade secrets with new generations of artists, from Murano and elsewhere. Their goal is also to pass on the love, the passion and the unique artistic style and high standards in glass making.

The courses in the school are covering all the most famous Murano techniques in forming glass, like glassblowing and solid working. The students learning glassblowing technique are creating different objects: Venetian goblets, plates and vases, decorated using various techniques such as filigree, reticella filigree, murrina, and incalmo.

Fusing, a popular contemporary glass technique, is also taught in the school. Fusing, or slumping, allows the glass sheet to be formed, at high temperatures, into different artistic forms. Students who learn fusing can work on stained glass, sculptures and glass jewelry.

Lampworking is another ancient technique which reached its peak in Murano that is now taught students from different countries. Glass rods of different thickness are softened by heat from the ‘lamp’ heated by methane gas and oxygen. Once pliable, rods are shaped with different tools, making small decorative objects and beads of all sizes and shapes.

The Abate Zanetti Glass School also offers small group or private lessons if requested. The School teachers and maestros are also available to work with individual artists and designers on their projects.

At GlassOfVenice.com, We feel that the handmade colorful and precious murano glass objects allow us to go back in time and capture the fragile beauty of Venice, and we are happy to share this opportunity with our customers worldwide.

Please see our wide selection of authentic murano glass at www.GlassOfVenice.com

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World’s Largest Bottle of Grappa in Murano Glass

We all know that Murano glass stands for beautiful artistic objects, exqusiste home decor, and amazing jewelry. Yet today, just like centuries ago, some very practicable objects continue to be made of Murano glass. Supporting this traditional use of Murano glass is Distilleria Bottega located in Bibano, in the famous Prosecco wine region, 25 miles north of Venice. Distilleria Bottega has been producing excellent grappas, liquors, and wines for over thirty years, and the company continues to bottle many of them in hand-blown traditionally-made Murano glass bottles.

Although this distillery has always been well-known to grappa connoisseurs, it has recently achieved new heights and new level of fame. On the 6th of June in the Sant Artemio Park in Treviso, with almost 6,000 people watching, Distilleria Bottega presented its grandest creation yet – a gigantic bottle of grappa made entirely of Murano glass and measuring 2 meters in height, 30 centimeters in diameter. The bottle was filled with 138 liters of fine prosecco grappa, and was measured by the officials from Guinness World Book of Records, who confirmed that it sets the new world record for the Largest Bottle of Grappa.
World Largest Bottle of Grappa in Murano Glass
This record-setting bottle of grappa took eight months of preparation, 200 hours of work and the sweat, blood and tears of six Venetian glass-blowers. This Murano glass giant has a diameter of 25cm, a circumference of 110cm and is 5cm thick.

But don’t despair if you were not in the 6,000 spectator crowd to catch a sight of this Venetian glass wonder. Distilleria Bottega sells its products in 110 countries and produces 6 millions bottles per year. Its Alexander line offers liquors in hand-blown Murano glass bottles, all made following the ancient Venetian glass-blowing. Buy one of this bottles, and you are guaranteed to enjoy not only outstanding grappa, but also its beautiful Venetian glass bottle long after the grappa is gone.

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Murano glass vases by Venini for Versace

Murano glass is about to get even more famous and fashionable as it gets a boost from the legendary Versace brand. In an attempt to add a twist to their Versace Casa collection of home furnishings and decor and revive Gianni Versace’s heritage, the famous design house teamed up with the best-in-class Murano glassmaking firm Venini to produce an exclusive collection of hand-blown contemporary glass vases. The result of this collaboration by two biggest names in exclusive fashion is eagerly awaited since 2004 when they last worked together on a line of Murano glass vases.

Speaking at the presentation of the new Versace Casa collection in Milan on April 14th, Donatella Versace said: “I’m so proud because, with this new collaboration, we re-created some historical vases that Gianni had designed, obviously re-edited and streamlined. The first Venini collaboration ran from 1997 to 2004”.

The vases which will include new pieces as well as the legendary Heritage Collection designs from the 1990’s, will be numbered and initialed and will feature rich colors, geometrical patterns and bold designs. They will be available this Fall at all Versace boutiques, selected Venini stores, and other exclusive retailers throughout the world.










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A New Word in Murano Glass Art – Real Murano Glass Shoes!

In our long careers in Murano glass and many trips to Venice we have seen lots of Murano glass items from smaller rings and pendants all the way to large sculptures, chandeliers, mirrors, bathroom sinks, and even Christmas tree. But one thing we have never seen or even imagined in Murano glass is shoes.

Amazingly enough, we recently learned, now one can find and even buy and wear real Murano glass shoes! And if you like that idea, you do not even need to travel to Italy. Master shoemaker Pasquale Fabrizio who owns famous Pasquale Shoe Repair in Los Angeles that serves lots of celebrities and Hollywood stars has just created a line of Murano glass shoes fit for a real-life princess. These amazing shoes were introduced to the world (or rather to a selected few celebrities) at a champagne reception on January 29, 2010 on the rooftop patio of Pasquale Fabrizio’s shoe studio called “Q by Pasquale”. This proves that there really is no limit to Murano glass art and that, far from being a thing of the past, it holds a dinstinctive fashionable place in modern life.
Murano Glass Shoe

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