VITTORIO ZECCHIN, A GLASS DESIGNER AT THE VENINI FURNACE IN MURANO
October 25th, 2017
Vittorio Zecchin: Transparent glass for Cappellini and Venini Saint George's island, Venice September 11th, 2017 - January 7th, 2018 Free admission, h.10 am - 7 pm, closed on Wednesdays This exhibit intends to celebrate the work and the style of Vittorio Zecchin (1878-1947) who was both a painter and one of the most talented glass designers in the XXth century. Born in Murano, he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice and made his debut as a painter inspired by the avant-garde movements of Central Europe, such as Gustav Klimt and the Art Nouveau. His eclectic style and experimental attitude were applied in tapestry, embroidery and especially glass, with a series of murrine pieces and transparent glass with enamel decorations. The purity of his design and the originality of his technical procedures were held in high esteem by Giacomo Cappellin, a Venetian antiquarian who in the early 1921 had just founded a glass factory with the lawyer Paolo Venini from Milan. In the fall of the same year Zecchin was asked to become the artistic director of the factory, which aimed at producing refined and elegant glass pieces intended for the high society such as that of Milan. The painter’s models were both Classical Antiquity style and traditional Murano pieces, which were reinterpreted with a great degree of freedom, in terms of colors and size. In fact he was inspired by the essential nature of the Greek kantharos, kylix, and krater, although the new pieces were bigger in size and much brighter in color, decorated with small handles or pinched extremities, locally known as “morise”. Moreover, Venetian art history helped Zecchin to update his personal inventory of glass forms, particularly the small vase appearing in the Annunciation canvas painted in 1580 by Paolo Caliari called Veronese and displayed in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice. The Veronese vase is still produced today by the best glass furnaces, as an example of delicacy and refinement. The new Glass Museum in Murano, opened in 1861, gave him the opportunity to admire the precious collections of traditional bowls, vases, plates, fruit stands and the incredible variety of styles developed over the centuries. Giovanni Seguso, Venini’s best glass master, was able to reproduce the same pieces in collaboration with Zecchin, who suggested him unusual combinations of colors. One of the most complex techniques was the meza stampatura, used in Murano since the 15th century, applied to ribbed pieces, although ribbings were more pronounced and with varying width. Another section of the exhibit is focused on Compote bowls and dinner services, which were inspired by 18th century examples and 15th-16th century Veneto paintings. All the pieces on display are characterized by extreme finesse and simple forms in pastel colors such as amethyst, pale green and blue, light pink and straw. The lids of the bonbonnières were based on the 18th century ones, with handles in the shape of various fruit. In those years Cappellini and Venini furnace took part in many decorative art exhibits displaying dinner, drinking and liqueur sets that achieved national awards, such as the one organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the supply of “crystal” intended for the Italian embassies abroad (1924-27). The considerable success achieved by Venini in Italy launched the furnace to the international art scene. It is worthy mentioning the participation to the 1st Biennale of Monza in 1923, and the well-known Exposition international des Arts Decoratifs et industriels modernes of Paris in 1925. The collaboration between a talented artist and two far-sighted enterpreneurs represented one of the most successful examples in the history of local glass production and the evidence of the way this art was able to reaffirm itself internationally.