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Karen LaMonte, Nocturnes, 2017 | © Karen LaMonte 2017.  Photo Credit: Nicola Gnesi
Karen LaMonte, Nocturnes, 2017 | © Karen LaMonte 2017. Photo Credit: Nicola Gnesi
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Don't Miss This Glassworks Exhibition in a 16th-Century Venetian Palace

Picture of Rachel Gould
Art & Design Editor
Updated: 17 May 2017
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. © Karen LaMonte 2017. Photo Credit: Nicola Gnesi
Karen LaMonte, Nocturnes, 2017 | © from Daniele REIBER (REIBER and PARTNERS). Courtesy of GLASSTRESS.

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, 62 x 23 x 18 cm, Courtesy the artist and Berengo Studio, Photo credit: Francesco Allegretto
Erwin Wurm, Venetian Sausage Small, 2016, injected blown glass | Courtesy the artist and Berengo Studio. Photo credit: Francesco Allegretto

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, from 30 to 60 cm diameter each piece / variable dimensions (installation), Photo credit: Greaudstudio, © Loris Gréaud, Gréaudstudio
Loris Gréaud, The Unplayed Notes Factory, 2017, glass, light bulbs, metal. Photo credit: Greaudstudio | © Loris Gréaud, Gréaudstudio

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, Photo credit: Marco Berengo
Ai Weiwei in the Berengo Studio furnace, 2016 | © Marco Berengo

“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. © Karen LaMonte 2017. Photo credit: Nicola Gnesi
Karen LaMonte, Cumulus, 2017. Marble | © from Daniele REIBER (REIBER and PARTNERS). Courtesy of GLASSTRESS.

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, 55 x 135 x 82 cm, Courtesy Austin Art Projects, Palm Desert, Photo credit: Martin Polak, © Karen LaMonte 2017
Karen LaMonte, Reclining Nocturne 1 / detail, 2015, cast glass | © Karen LaMonte 2017
Laure Prouvost in the Berengo Studio furnace, 2017, Photo credit: Oliver Haas
Laure Prouvost in the Berengo Studio furnace, 2017 | © Oliver Haas
Laure Prouvost, On My Way to You, 2017, glass, 27 x 75 x 17, Courtesy the artist and Berengo Studio, Photo credit: Francesco Allegretto
Laure Prouvost, On My Way to You, 2017, glass | Courtesy the artist and Berengo Studio, Photo credit: Francesco Allegretto
Brigitte Kowanz in the Berengo Studio furnace, 2017, Photo credit: Oliver Haas
Brigitte Kowanz in the Berengo Studio furnace, 2017 | © Oliver Haas
Brigitte Kowanz, Volumen, 2017, glass, 50 x 30 cm diameter, Courtesy the artist and Berengo Studio, Photo credit: Francesco Allegretto
Brigitte Kowanz, Volumen, 2017, glass | Courtesy the artist and Berengo Studio, Photo credit: Francesco Allegretto
Sabine Wiedenhofer in the Berengo Studio furnace, 2017, Photo credit: Oliver Haas
Sabine Wiedenhofer in the Berengo Studio furnace, 2017 | © Oliver Haas