Despite Lino Tagliapietra‘s position as one of the most-revered glass artists in the United States with the attendant museum exhibitions, coffeetable books, and accolades, 2011 marks the first major retrospective of his work in his native Italy. Curators Rosa Barovier Mentasti and Sandro Pezzoli make up for lost time by including a thorough representation of every stage of Tagliapietra’s career in 11 rooms of the Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti, a 16th-century Venetian Gothic building right on the Grand Canal. Organized by the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arte and entitled “LINO TAGLIAPIETRA. Da Murano allo Studio Glass. Opere 1954 – 2011,” the exhibition showcases pieces from every stage of Tagliapietra’s rich and prolific career, including many early works from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.
The earliest piece is a pristine red goblet from 1954, the same year Tagliapietra attained the rank of maestro when he was just 21 years old (he gave the piece to his mother-in-law as a gift). Four rooms showcase later pieces Tagliapietra made while working at vetrerias like Ferro Galliano, La Murrina, and Effetre International, while still others highlight his Steuben residencies and collaborations with Emilio Baracco, Dale Chihuly, A.D. Copier, and Dan Dailey. The unique shape of an intriguing cup prototype Tagliapietra made while at Effetre International evokes Harold Edgerton’s Milk Drop Coronet, while vases from his tenure at Ferro Galliano look like cellophane candy wrappers left smooth and untouched.
While the red goblet marks the chronological beginning of the comprehensive retrospective, it is the exhibition’s center gallery that makes for a true jumping-off point. Avventura is a dazzling installation of over 100 avventurina vessels that glow from the copper particles mixed in the glass. Set in a large black shadowbox mounted on a white wall, the gilded vases and pitchers emulate Roman amphorae, vessel forms far older than the Murano glassblowing tradition and its challenging avventurina technique. The installation is similar to a piece by the same name with 125 vessel forms. This avventurina work sold for $245,000 at SOFA in November.
The curators placed the Masai d’Oro wall installation in the same room, as well as Angel Tear, the piece used for the exhibition catalog and ads. Sixteen textured elliptical pieces comprise Masai d’Oro, part of a series inspired by the deeply symbolic shields used by the Masai peoples in Kenya and Tanzania. Tagliapietra elevates these utilitarian artworks to a fine art status, emphasizing their value with the color gold in lieu of the wood and leather traditionally used by the Masai. He marks each piece with a unique pattern reminiscent of the markings, or sirata, passed down for generations by the Masai.
Twenty-three hand blown glass sculptures greet visitors in another room. With views onto the Grand Canal from windows behind Endeavor, it is impossible not to see gondolas in the curved, floating pieces that make up the installation. “The juxtaposition of Lino’s art in this setting underscores the relationship of his art to the rich history and artistry of Venice,” wrote art dealer Jim Schantz of Schantz Galleries, in a response to the exhibition which he attended recently.
IF YOU GO:
“LINO TAGLIAPIETRA. Da Murano allo Studio Glass. Opere 1954 – 2011″
Through May 22nd, 2011
Istituto Veneto di Scienze Letter ed Arti
Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti
Campo Santo Stefano
2842 – 30124 Venice
Tel: +39 041 5237819
Tuesday – Saturday 10 AM – 7 PM