The Santillanas – Works by Laura de Santillana and Alessandro Diaz de Santillana

plus Apr, 06Aug, 03 2014

The exhibition The Santillanas – Works by Laura de Santillana and Alessandro Diaz de Santillana, conceived by Martin Bethenod, will open to the public on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice on April 6, 2014. The exhibition is promoted by Le Stanze del Vetro, a joint cultural initiative by Fondazione Giorgio Cini and Pentagram Stiftung, whose mission is to study and to promote the art of twentieth-century glassmaking and to show the potential and countless variations of this medium. The exhibition will run until August 3, 2014, and will be open to the public every day except Wednesdays. Admission is free.

After the monographic exhibitions on Carlo Scarpa and Napoleone Martinuzzi, and the collective exhibition Fragile?, featuring the glass works of contemporary artists from Duchamp to Ai Weiwei, this new exhibition at Le Stanze del Vetro will experiment with a new narrative model: a dialogue and confrontation between the different poetics of two artists. The novelty, in this specific case, is that the artists in question are also brother and sister.

The Santillanas exhibition explores the world of Laura de Santillana and Alessandro Diaz de Santillana, siblings and descendants of a legendary glassmaking dynasty, through their father, Ludovico Diaz de Santillana, and their grandfather, Paolo Venini. The exhibition is the result of the collaboration and complicity between the artists and Martin Bethenod; it brings together approximately 130 works including sculptures, artworks and glassware selected from a period of more than two years of meetings and conversations between Martin Bethenod and the Santillana siblings. The works on display are not the result of a “four-handed” work, but instead they investigate the diverse yet intertwined dialectic of the two artists, each following an autonomous artistic path but both relying on a common family heritage and biography.

This biographical connection, or “shared memory”, is the central axis of The Santillanas exhibition and the underlying theme of the entire show. The galleries of Le Stanze del Vetro have been especially adapted in order to enable a comparison and an ongoing dialogue between the works of the two artists. The central corridor will serve as a meeting point between the worlds of Laura de Santillana and Alessandro Diaz de Santillana and create a cross-play of connections and references but also of disagreements, though never forced nor far-fetched but rather revealing of the formal similarities, the peculiarities and differences between the artistic works and creative processes of Laura and Alessandro.


As Martin Bethenod explains: “Following a mnemonic principle and a process of free association, the vitrines and the shelves of the galleries display works from different periods and especially of very varied vocation: finished pieces, sketches or preparatory works, artifacts, souvenirs, sources of inspiration, drawings, photographs. A collection of works that forms a sort of double portrait in motion of the two artists. This long ‘street’, which focuses on the dynamics of time, on the comparison between the two artists, the different functions of the objects on display, the importance of context and personal history, is the true backbone of the exhibition and runs along it from beginning to end”.

Divided into eight rooms, which make up Le Stanze del Vetro, the Santillanas exhibition features sculptures and glass works ​​by the two artists ranging from the eighties to the present, along with a body of new works specially designed and manufactured for this show.

The Santillanas exhibition offers a new narrative scenario and an innovative way of displaying and viewing the art works, where alongside the differences in creativity and work processes of the two artists one can perceive the signs of a common memory and shared experience.