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Major Artists to Collaborate with Murano Glassmakers Alongside 2017 Venice Biennale

Picture of Rachel Gould
Art & Design Editor
Updated: 6 March 2017
Ahead of the 57th Venice Biennale, 27 outstanding contemporary artists will collaborate with local Italian artisans to create new artworks in Murano glass – a historic Venetian tradition.

Dedicated to the continuation of the Murano glassmaking practice, GLASSTRESS was first presented alongside the Venice Biennale in 2009. Organized by the Fondazione Berengo, the program invites selected artists to construct their own glassworks in Venice’s historic Palazzo Franchetti and the Murano Factory on Murano Island.

Murano Glass Workshop
Murano Glass Workshop | © Jack Seeds/Flickr

Traditionally, Murano glass was forged on the Venetian island of Murano. It’s a centuries-old artistic practice that incorporates glass blown with intricate threads of gold or layered with colors and patterns. Murano glassmakers continue the tradition in the form of sculptures, figurines, and souvenir-ready items like paper weights and wine-stoppers.

Venice, Italy, Murano Glass Store Window
Venice, Italy, Murano Glass Store Window | ©

This year’s edition of GLASSTRESS will showcase installations by Austrian artist Erwin Wurm and Belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen, amongst others, exhibited throughout the Palazzo Franchetti. At the Murano Glass Factory, French artist Loris Gréaud will use the formerly-abandoned furnace for his installation titled The Unplayed Notes Factory.

© Mojpe/Pixabay

Major contemporary artists such as Ai Weiwei and Ugo Rondinone will experiment with the medium for the first time, while approximately half of this year’s participants will return to the craft and create something new. Other notable participants include American performance and installation artist Paul McCarthy, English sculptor Tony Cragg, New York-based multimedia artist Sarah Sze, and Brazilian multimedia artist Vik Muniz.

GLASSTRESS will run alongside the 57th edition of the Venice Biennale, from May 13 through November 26, 2017.