Magazine of art press and reviews from London
Glassmaker Seguso from Murano to the Art Moorhouse in London.
Jack Newhouse – Wednesday, 28th November 2012
“His work is characterised by a continuous and sophisticated search”
Giampaolo Seguso is part of the glass tradition of Murano Island, his native place. Afloat in the Venetian lagoon, Murano is where glassmakers have been practicing their art for over one thousand years. Their glass is world-renowned for being colourful, elaborate, and skilfully made.
Giampaolo Seguso was born the 17th November 1942, in Venice, Italy. He worked with his father, Archimede, – a world famous glass artist – for about 30 years. In 1993, his three sons Gianluca, Pierpaolo and GianAndrea opened the “Seguso Viro” Glass factory on the island of Murano. It is here that Giampaolo has found the space to express his desires to create and experiment new ways of pursuing his spirit as a poet and glass artist. Seguso’s work is testimony to his original and unmistakable Muranese identity.
Murano glass is a famous product of the Venetian island of Murano and it is the major production of Venetian glass – the characteristic glass made in Venice. Murano has been a commercial port as far back as the 7th century. By the 10th century, the island had become well known for its glassmakers. Over the centuries, artists from Murano created renowned masterpieces, and they are still leaders in glassmaking high quality.
The Muranese glassmakers make the most in how they understand and enhance the properties of glass, their very well hidden secret that allowed them to express their creativity freely and in the most variegated manner, in constant search of quality and beauty perfection.
The Muranese glassmaking tradition continues today in its multi – generational world of discovery and innovation that sees Master Glassblowers constantly pushing the limits of the raw material towards new and more challenging boundaries.
These ancient expertise, knowhow and assets have been transmitted throughout the centuries only from father to son almost. Therefore, family dynasties are born into the glass masters environment, and in among them Seguso family is one of the leading.
For six hundred years, members of the Seguso family have been driven by the passion, appreciation and responsibility of belonging to a long lasting glassmaker’s family. They follow the constant search for the beauty. They are dedicated in creating with “honesty and knowledge”.
The work of Giampaolo Seguso has a strong identity and summarises the ability to explore deeply into the roots of tradition. His work is characterised by a continuous and sophisticated search. Seguso employs traditional and historical techniques in ways that have never been done before.
It is believed that glassmaking in Murano originated in 9th century, with significant Asian and Muslim influences, as Venice was a major trading port. Murano’s reputation as a centre for glassmaking is born in 1291 when the Venetian Republic, fearing fire and destruction of the city’s mostly wooden buildings, ordered glassmakers to move their foundries to Murano. The glassmakers of Murano were soon most prominent citizens of the Republic of Venice. They were so important; they were not allowed to leave the Republic territory. However, many of them took the risk and set up glass furnaces in surrounding cities, but also in England and the Netherlands.
To mould glass, Murano glassmakers employ the very same special tools; their ancestors did, including borselle (tongs or pliers used to hand-form the red-hot glass), canna da soffio (blowing pipe), pontello (an iron rod to which the craftsman attaches the object after blowing in order to add final touches), scagno (the glass-master’s workbench) and tagianti (large glass-cutting clippers).
Murano’s glassmakers held a monopoly on quality glassmaking for centuries, developing or refining many technologies including crystalline glass, enamelled glass (smalto), glass with threads of gold (aventurine), multicoloured glass (millefiori), milk glass (lattimo), and imitation gemstones made of glass.
Today, the artisans of Murano are still employing these centuries-old techniques, and the island is home to a vast number of factories and a few individual artists’ studios making all manner of glass. Some of the Murano’s historical glass factories remain well known brands today, amongst them sit the Seguso.
In between the techniques interesting is Sommerso (lit. “Submerged” in Italian), or “sunken glasses”. It is a form of artistic Murano glass that has layers of contrasting colours (typically two), which are formed by dipping the object in molten glass. Sommerso was developed in Murano during the late thirties and was made popular by Seguso d’Arte in the fifties. This process is a popular technique for vases, and is sometimes used for sculptures.
From 12th October until 21st November 2012.
At the Art Moorhouse, Moorhouse, Moorgate, London.