A luminous glass exhibition in Munich

Murano. Milano. Venezia. Glass.

Now Showing: A new exhibition from Munich’s Die Neue Sammlung pays homage to the timeless beauty of Murano glass with over 200 stunning objects and drawings from the Holz Collection, one of the world’s most important private Murano collections. Thoughtfully set in the sun-kissed rotunda of the Pinakothek der Moderne, the pieces included in Murano. Milano. Venezia. Glass. seem to evolve right before one’s eyes throughout the day as daylight shifts around them.

Spanning work from the turn of the 20th century until the early 1970s, the show highlights several masterpieces previously included in the Milan Triennale and the Venice Biennial—two international exhibitions that celebrated the best of contemporary design and art at the time. During this same period, glass factories such as Venini, Archimede Seguso, and others championed anew the centuries-old craft of glassmaking, and master craftsmen on the island of Murano began working closely with designers of the day to explore new possibilities in form and technique.

As curator Dr. Xeina Riemann tells us, “The selection narrates the heyday of modern glass design, particularly at the first half of the 20th century. For us, it was stirring to bring to light the colors, forms, and gestures of these exceptional objects.”

Asked what she hopes people will take away from Murano. Milano. Venezia. Glass., Riemann says, “We wanted to share our fascination with glass and what is possible with this material, what challenges the maker at the highest level. These pieces would never have come to fruition had it not been for the close and intense cooperation between extraordinary glassmakers and eager artists who wanted their ideas materialized. The island of Murano is a truly special place, where tradition and knowledge are still seen as assets highly deserving of protection.”

Highlights include the Calice A Spirale from 1895—the oldest piece on display—which, according to Riemann, “demonstrates the virtuosity and artistry that the Maestri Vetrai learned from generation to generation;” as well as the joyfully colorful Oriente series (collector Lutz Holtz’s favorite), through which “Dino Martens demonstrated the influence of contemporary art, an abstract expressionistic movement, on the early 1950s.”  Notably, says Riemann, this same series’ color, pattern, and form also make it a key artifact of the post World War II era, as they reflect the period’s new, hard-won sense of optimism. Further, notes Riemann, “I’ve become a great fan of Ercole Barovier’s Barbarico Series. The dark, perforated forms are semi-opaque, having a coarse surface frosted with golden particles. At first, you do not associate the series with the material glass—that is, until the sun shines through.”

Murano. Milano. Venezia. Glass. is on display in Munich at the Pinakothek der Moderne, part of Die Neue Sammlung (The Design Museum), through October 16.  The exhibition was curated by Dr. Xenia Riemann, Dr. Josef Strasser, and assistant curator Nadine Engel. For more info, click here.

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