The Museum of Glass presents Scapes, a new exhibition of work created by siblings Laura de Santillana and Alessandro Diaz de Santillana and executed in the Museum of Glass Hot Shop during two Visiting Artist residencies in 2010. The exhibition will open in the Museum’s North Gallery on April 7, 2012 and remain on view through January 201
The de Santillanas share an impressive pedigree in glass. They are the grandchildren of Paolo Venini (1895–1959), founder of Venini & Co. in Murano, Italy, and their father, Ludovico Diaz de Santillana (1931–1989), was director of Venini from 1959 to 1985 and designed for the firm. In addition to a venerable family history anchored in the traditions of glassmaking, both Laura and Alessandro are respected artists in the international Studio Glass movement and have enjoyed successful solo careers. Scapes marks their first artistic collaboration.
All of the work for Scapes was produced entirely in the Museum of Glass Hot Shop, where the artists merged time-honored traditions of Italian glass making with the organic fluidity of the American Studio Glass movement. The de Santillanas were raised in a world where designers were the architects of glass works and glassblowers the technicians; success was measured by precision and conformity to the design. In the Museum of Glass Hot Shop, where experimentation and creativity define the work, the artists relinquished control, entrusting their carefully executed sketches to the hands of the Hot Shop Team. “During the Visiting Artist residency, I lived in the magical atmosphere of the Hot Shop,” comments Alessandro. “Along with my personal color magician Charlie Parriott and maestro Benjamin Cobb and his crew, I was performing the rites of an alchemist—visioning visions becoming true, sometimes pleasantly surprised, other times frustrated by certain avoidable but unforeseen mistakes.”
The exhibition comprises four installations, or rooms, based on the Hindu belief that the world is a series of disks made up of wind, water and earth upon which float four continents in a vast circular ocean. The de Santillanas have interpreted elements of this cosmology in glass, creating spaces in which forms and colors correspond to physical phenomenon.
Each room is entered through a symbolic gate and includes a combination of both artists’ work created in a limited, but strikingly vibrant, color palette. Alessandro’s work is distinctive—his 22 glass paintings were created from large, color-saturated cylinders that were slumped open into vibrant compositions and then framed. Laura’s elegantly-sculptured forms, displayed singularly and in small groupings, represent lingas (complex symbols of Hinduism), mountains, celestial eggs and stars.
The first room, Earth, is defined by colors of black, smoky gray, yellow, gold and deep red. Alessandro’s paintings evoke patterns carved by water, heat and wind, while Laura’s sculpted mountains rise up from the floor. For the Space room, Laura chose the form of the egg—ranging from simple, pure forms to some that resemble the human brain—in varying shades of white. Alessandro’s Space compositions are silver-toned and full of tiny bubbles.
Silver, burnt gold, white, copper, indigo and black delineate the Sun installation. Alessandro’s paintings are based on actual photographs of the sun taken from space, each with a distinct egg-shaped form at the center, that respond to Laura’s cosmic eggs and two linga. The final room, Moon and Constellations, is a world of white and gold. “Working together was a total novelty or both of us,” states Laura. “We were literally swept up in the project, and as we worked at a fast pace, our two parts of the project, in a kind of dance, became alive…Amazingly, our projects not only look good together but feed each other.”
“We are so excited to see this exhibition come to fruition,” comments Museum of Glass Interim Director Susan Warner. “The practice of extending Visiting Artist residencies to create work specifically for new exhibitions is a hallmark of the Museum of Glass. These residencies have proved to be popular and enriching experiences for visitors and artists alike, and it is especially rewarding to come and see all the hard work and talent from the Hot Shop realized in the gallery.”
A full-color catalog co-published by the University of Washington press will accompany the exhibition. Essayists include Dr. Balkrishna Doshi, an architect of international standing and founder of the Vastu-Shilpa Foundation for Studies and Research in Environmental Design; David Landau, international businessman, collector and art scholar; and Francesco Da Rin De Lorenzo, a renown architect who has close ties to the Venini de Santillana family and a scholarly interest in glass as both an architectural and artistic material. The publication will include a DVD documenting the creation of the work in the Hot Shop as well as the completed installations.
About the Artists:
Laura de Santillana (Italian, born 1955), an internationally recognized artist and designer, continues the Venini family glassmaking tradition. She was born in Venice, Italy, and studied at School of Visual Arts in New York City. Her work first appeared in the United States in 1979 as part of the traveling exhibition New Glass: A Worldwide Survey, organized by The Corning Museum of Glass. Since then, she has had solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. Her work is on display in museums worldwide.
Alessandro Diaz de Santillana (Italian, born 1959) is a third-generation glassmaker who honors the tradition of his father and grandfather while establishing his own successful career in glass. He was born in Paris, studied at the University of Venice, and joined the family firm, Venini, in 1981. At the same time, he began experimenting his own work in dozens of solo and group shows around the world in the United States, Europe and Asia. His work is also included in public and private collections worldwide.
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