Don't Miss This Glassworks Exhibition in a 16th-Century Venetian Palace

Karen LaMonte, Nocturnes, 2017
Karen LaMonte, Nocturnes, 2017 | © Karen LaMonte 2017. Photo Credit: Nicola Gnesi
Rachel Gould

Art & Design Editor

The old Venetian art of glassblowing is brilliantly revived in a fabulous 16th-century palazzo at GLASSTRESS, an unmissable collateral event of the Venice Biennale.

The stunningly beautiful Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti houses part of this year’s GLASSTRESS, a special exhibition of glassworks forged by nearly 40 participating contemporary artists.

Karen LaMonte, Nocturnes, 2017

The palace’s spectacular interior is jarringly juxtaposed—yet astoundingly complimented—by Erwin Wurm’s signature dancing sausages, Paul McCarthy’s infamous butt plugs, and large-scale installations such as intricate glass chandeliers.

Erwin Wurm, Venetian Sausage Small, 2016, injected blown glass

But GLASSTRESS is not limited to the interior and grounds of the palazzo; the exhibition also takes place on the island of Murano, the point of origin for Venetian glass. Organized by the Fondazione Berengo, GLASSTRESS aims to “revitalize and re-energize the glass industry in Murano so that it can take its place, once more, as the world-renowned centre of the glass industry…” Furthermore, the initiative aims to “educate those who are already interested in the art of glass-making, inspire those who are looking for a new medium for their work, and re-establish glass making as a skill and craft of the highest significance.”

Loris Gréaud, The Unplayed Notes Factory, 2017, glass, light bulbs, metal. Photo credit: Greaudstudio

Some of the biggest names in art, from Swiss sculptor Ugo Rondinone to tech art collective Random International, are present in the showcase. Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who made his GLASSTRESS (and glass art) debut this year, called the Fondazione Berengo initiative “exceptionally brilliant” for the ways in which it “develop[s] this old technique into a new language.”

Ai Weiwei in the Berengo Studio furnace, 2016

“With little or no prior experience working with glass, these artists have embraced the challenge of creating extraordinary works in this very delicate medium in collaboration with Muranese artisans,” the press release explains. “The remarkable output of this unusual encounter defies the stereotypes associated with this ancient craft, ultimately pushing the boundaries of both contemporary art and glass.”

Karen LaMonte, Cumulus, 2017. Marble

Showcasing small glass objects alongside large installations, GLASSTRESS 2017 is a nod to a beloved Venetian tradition, and an exceptional component of the 57th Venice Biennale.
Organized by Fondazione Berengo, GLASSTRESS is on view at Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti, S. Marco, 2847, 30124 Venezia, and in the Berengo Exhibition Space, Campiello della Pescheria, Murano until November 26, 2017.

Karen LaMonte, Reclining Nocturne 1 / detail, 2015, cast glass
Laure Prouvost in the Berengo Studio furnace, 2017
Laure Prouvost, On My Way to You, 2017, glass
Brigitte Kowanz in the Berengo Studio furnace, 2017
Brigitte Kowanz, Volumen, 2017, glass
Sabine Wiedenhofer in the Berengo Studio furnace, 2017

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