This post comes to us from Jenny Haskins, Curatorial Intern
Glassblowing was always a fascinating and curious medium to me. The ability to create delicate three-dimensional forms through rugged heating and cooling processes is attractively foreign. Glass is a material used on a daily basis throughout the world, however, it is moving beyond the realm of strictly functional objects and becoming increasingly understood and appreciated as fine art. Lino Tagliapietra is a contemporary glass artist currently featured in a Davis Gallery Exhibition, A Joint Venture: The Collection of Thomas and Kathryn Cox. He produces his work in series usually based on famous landmarks or cities he has visited. Dinosaur, in the Cox Collection, is a black-striped organic form mixing rigid and smooth textures. It belongs to a series of work inspired by marine animals, depicting organic forms with long necks extending from oval cores. In the artist’s words, this series integrates “the strength of the dinosaur with the fluidity of the fishes that inhabit the waters of Venice.” I found its presence here at the NBMAA to be a great opportunity to explore the world of glass art and become more familiar with one of its best known artists.
Tagliapietra was born in Murano, Italy in 1934 where he apprenticed under internationally known Muranese master, Archimede Seguso (1909-1999), beginning at the age of eleven. By 21, he earned the title: maestro vetraio (master glassblower), and continued to work in the finest Muranese glass factories for the next 25 years. Becoming a master glassblower is a painstakingly long experience which requires exposure to a scientific environment for multiple years. The United States does not offer many courses in learning these scientific fundamentals (which may be why I find the medium so foreign), therefore European courses are more ideal. Murano, the glassblowing capital of the world, provides the finest programs to become the master of the craft, not to mention its very artistically inspiring landscapes and scenery.
Fellow glass master, Dale Chihuly (b. 1941) appropriately described Tagliapietra as “perhaps the world’s greatest living glassblower.” In 1979, Tagliapietra was invited to the United States to teach at Chihuly’s Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington. In the mid-eighties, Tagliapietra transitioned himself to independent studio artist in order to further develop his own artistic ideas and unique work, becoming more than just a master of the glassblowing craft. His love for northwest America developed from there and he eventually established a permanent studio in Seattle, Washington in 1994.
“Through his work, we see the transformation of old elements to new concepts. Lino Tagliapietra is one of the few glassmakers who can successfully transmit his own sensitivity and intellect into an inanimate object. That is what makes us respond so powerfully to his work and what makes him an artist,” according to Susanne K. Frantz, former curator of 20th-century glass at the Corning Museum of Glass in New York. Tagliapietra’s innovative and visually stunning sculptures and installations have put a high demand on the art of glass-making worldwide.
The collection presented by Thomas and Kathryn Cox will be on display at the New Britain Museum of American Art through June 2nd, 2013 in the Davis Gallery. The Cox collection will include work of renowned glass blower, Lino Tagliapietra along with approximately thirty other works by artists in a variety of mediums. However, of the entire collection, Dinosaur caught my eye the most. Come to the Museum to experience your own reaction to Tagliapietra’s glass mastery. What do you think of the growing world of glass art? Tagliapietra and Chihuly are considered the masters and originators of glass as the artist’s medium. Who are some artists entering the art scene with glass as their preferred medium of expression? Which, if any, are comparable to Tagliapietra?