Checkered ‘murrine’ glass vases and bowl, 1953
Curated by Marino Barovier for Le Stanze del Vetro, the exhibition Paolo Venini and His Furnace is devoted to a pioneering figure of 20th-century glass, whose passionate work made a crucial contribution to the liveliness of the art form. Previously a partner in Cappellin Venini and originally from Milan, Paolo Venini (1895–1959) founded the V.S.M. Venini & C glassworks in 1925 with the assistance of Napoleone Martinuzzi and Francesco Zecchin; the latter then left in 1932. Having become company president, Venini worked tirelessly as a great orchestrator and manager of the furnace until his death in 1959. A cultivated entrepreneur who took a keen interest in contemporary artistic developments as well as the demands of the international markets, Venini also personally designed a new series of glass objects, with the aid of his design office, and contributed to the extensive glass catalogue which in the meantime had also been enhanced by contributions from several artists. Thanks to careful research work, the exhibition and catalogue document the production determined by Paolo Venini’s specific decisions, which led, for example, to the series called Diamante in the second half of the 1930s. But it was in the 1950s that Venini regularly worked on creating his own glass designs, which enjoyed considerable success at the Milan Triennial and the Venice Biennale as well as at various international events in Europe and the United States, held to promote Italian craftsmanship and design. The many glass objects designed from 1950 to 1954 reveal a refined reinterpretation in an innovative key of some traditional Murano techniques, such as zanfirico. Although mainly focusing on the remarkable personality and role played by Paolo Venini, the exhibition also illustrates the production resulting from sporadic collaborations from the 1930s to the 1950s with artists and designers, such as Tyra Lundgren, Gio Ponti, Piero Fornasetti, Eugene Berman, Ken Scott, Charles Lin Tissot, Riccardo Licata, Massimo Vignelli, Tobia Scarpa and Grete Prytz.