Lino Tagliapietra: The World of Contemporary Glass Owe Their Art to This Man

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LIULI China Museum, Shanghai, and LIULI Taipei Songyen Gallery exhibit world-renown glass maestro Lino Tagliapietra for the first time

 

 

At 84, Lino Tagliapietra is recognized as the world’s greatest glassblower. Hailing from Murano, Italy, his first solo exhibition in China Lino Tagliapietra: One of a Kind features 48 large-scale glass art masterpieces. Visually abstract, texturally distinctive and vibrantly colored, his contemporary sculptures are elegant works of poetry.  Building upon the foundation of traditional Venetian Glass, Tagliapietra subverts the classic for a new interpretation in this modern age.  In creating these alternative expressions in glass, he has inadvertently changed the evolution of glass art around the world. The exhibition will run through March 2018 and is also available for viewing in the LIULI Taipei Songyen Gallery.

Lino Tagliapietra is an 84-year-old artist with over 70 years of experience in glass; the development of modern glass art is mirrored in his legendary career.  His work can be found in the collections of 35 internationally esteemed museums including The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and Corning Museum of Glass in New York.  Exhibition curator Chang Yi says, “The source of Lino Tagliapietra’s glass art can be traced to the Roman Empire; add to that seventy plus years of physical and mental labor.  The result is an unprecedented category of glass art”.

Perseverance - the Crux of Glass Art

Lino Tagliapietra was born on the island of Murano, Italy. Intrinsically tied to the history of glass, Murano had already become a hub for glass production by the Middle Ages. Nurtured by this environment, Tagliapietra’s interest in glass was intrinsic.  As a young boy, he quit school against his parents’ wishes and entered a glass studio as an apprentice.

 

 

“…Glass is alive.  Even when cooled, it is still shifting.  When joined with fire, with water, its connection to nature is intrinsic.”

 

From fetching water and sweeping floors to eventually assisting in glass blowing, Tagliapietra’s skills were honed through observation and hands on experience (a teaching tradition once commonplace on Murano and practically inconceivable today).  By his early 20s, Tagliapietra had mastered the complexities of technique and expression and earned the rank of “Maestro.”

As the birthplace of the Cultural Renaissance, Italy cultivated Tagliapietra’s instinct for color.  While other artists chose to purchase prefabricated cane from glass suppliers to use in their work, Tagliapietra created his own custom glass by combining over ten colors in one cane.  And while glass manufacturers depended on scientific hypothesis to determine the outcome, Tagliapietra used his first-hand knowledge of color and material to accurately execute his concepts.

Through constant reflection and reimagining of technique, Lino Tagliapietra’s work becomes ever-alive and never stagnant. His Dinosaur series uses directional traction to pull blown glass shapes into elongated fluid forms resting on narrow bases; the meticulously precarious shapes undermine the traditional structural equilibrium of glass sculpture.

Angel Tear is Tagliapietra’s breakthrough series.  Each tear shaped sculpture features a narrow base, wide center and elongated neck. Widely received, the shape has since become the artist’s signature.

Lino Tagliapietra creates elegantly modern glass art using traditional Venetian Glass techniques. He says, “Glass is an amazing material. Why? Because glass is alive. Even when cooled, it is still shifting. When joined with fire, with water, its connection to nature is intrinsic. Glass is my life.”

An Unspoken Secret - Avoiding the Death Sentence

The Venetian glassblowing technique is Murano’s greatest cultural inheritance.  For hundreds of years, the techniques and formulations used in glassblowing have been considered national secrets and all Muranese glassworkers knew that revealing said secrets could result in punishment as severe as death. When Lino Tagliapietra made the decision to share his knowledge with American students, fellow glassworkers warned him: “What you do is your business but you cannot reveal too much. This traditional technique does not belong to you - it belongs to Venice.” 

 

 

 

“Knowledge does not belong to any one person… it was developed as glassblowers worked together and pushed each other to try new and different things.”

 

Still, Tagliapietra was not deterred because he believed that in order for glass art to break through to the next level, it could not be confined to a small island; exposure to other cultures was imperative.  He says, “All that we learn comes from someone or somewhere; knowledge does not belong to any one person or entity. No one brought technical know-how to Murano, it was developed as glassblowers worked together and pushed each other to try new and different things—this is essential.”

Behind each design created by Tagliapietra is the thousand year history of Muranese glass. In contemporary glass art, he is a legend of our times, the undisputed master of Venetian glassblowing who has led the life of a quintessential artisan. In 1979 Tagliapietra had already made a name for himself - one that was controversial at times due to his choice to reveal the secrets of Venetian Glass to the Americans.  At the time, Tagliapietra was faced with two options: let Venetian Glass stagnate or stoke its flame elsewhere.  He chose the latter and shortly thereafter accepted an invitation to teach at the Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle. Selflessly, he bequeathed the thousand-year-old traditions harbored in Murano to eager students which then gave rise to the American Studio Glass Movement.

Chang Yi and Loretta H. Yang founded Liuligongfang in 1987. Investing all they had into developing the “liuli pate de verre technique”, the duo resurrected the lost-art of Chinese liuli and shared their technique and creative philosophy with the world in the name of cultural inheritance. 

Lino Tagliapietra, Chang Yi and Loretta H. Yang’s resolve is built upon an artist’s conviction, conviction in their craft and conviction in the calling of a greater legacy.

Bridge Between Two Cultures

Chang Yi and Loretta H. Yang deeply believe that art is a critical part of culture.  Culture is tradition, is life, is narrating the storied history of Chinese history through liuli across 30 years. They have encouraged the influx of international culture domestically just as they have encouraged the dissemination of Chinese culture abroad. Chang and Yang hope that this exhibition will instigate a dialogue between East and West and lead to a deeper understanding of Chinese culture, art, beliefs and philosophy.

 

 

Bridge Between Two Cultures

Chang Yi and Loretta H. Yang deeply believe that art is a critical part of culture.  Culture is tradition, is life, is narrating the storied history of Chinese history through liuli across 30 years. They have encouraged the influx of international culture domestically just as they have encouraged the dissemination of Chinese culture abroad. Chang and Yang hope that this exhibition will instigate a dialogue between East and West and lead to a deeper understanding of Chinese culture, art, beliefs and philosophy.

 

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  • LIULI Staff
Comments 1
  • Boha Glass
    Boha Glass

    I strongly believe that glass in alive in all of its states. Molten glass is of course my favourite state!

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