|(New York, July 11, 2014)—Forty-four works in glass by renowned Italian architect Carlo Scarpa—created during his 15-year collaboration with Venini Glassworks in Venice between 1932 and 1947—have been donated by Dr. David Landau and his wife Marie-Rose Kahane to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they will join the collection of the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art. All of the works were on view recently at the Museum in the exhibition Venetian Glass by Carlo Scarpa: The Venini Company, 1932–1947.
“This prescient gift from David Landau and Marie-Rose Kahane comes at a critical moment in the Met’s history, as we are reinvigorating our commitment to modern architecture and design,” said Thomas P. Campbell, the Museum’s Director and CEO. “We are extremely grateful for these pioneering works that represent the breadth of Scarpa’s radical experimentation in glass and that redefined an ancient tradition for the modern world.”
“Every piece in this extraordinary gift is an outstanding example of Scarpa’s artistry. Together, these works represent the full sweep of his oeuvre in glass,” said Sheena Wagstaff, the Museum’s Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art. “From the incandescence of a wafer-thin vessel tinged with blue—or a vase in which bubbles of air are suspended in translucent glass that glimmers in the light from tiny fragments of gold leaf—this remarkable donation from Dr. Landau and Ms. Kahane is a dazzling and deeply generous gesture. It will have a transformative impact on our holdings of 20th-century glass and design, and will form important links to the Met’s Greek, Roman, Asian, and European holdings, to whose lineage Scarpa pays shimmering homage.”
Dr. Landau commented: “In 1929 the International Exhibition of Contemporary Glass and Rugs opened at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and in its vitrines Italian glass was well represented by major pieces mostly produced at Paolo Venini’s factory in Murano. They were for sale—which sounds really extraordinary now—but the Museum did not jump at this unrivalled opportunity. My wife and I are trying to partly remedy that by giving a few Venini pieces to a museum it is impossible not to love. Whenever we visit New York, more time is spent in its collections than anywhere else, as there is always something to learn and much to enjoy. We were very struck that, having seen the Scarpa show in Venice, Sheena Wagstaff decided there and then that she wished a version of it to be her first show at the Metropolitan: her enthusiasm and vision were only matched by the dedication and intelligence with which Nicholas Cullinan and Mary Clare McKinley adapted or, rather, re-created the exhibition in the Lehman Wing, adding on and enhancing Marino Barovier’s original work. We are very happy that the visitors to this great institution will forever more have a chance to meet and be excited by the pieces conceived by the greatest Italian glass designer of the 20th century.”
Carlo Scarpa (1906–1978) first began to hone his skills in the medium of glass while working as a young architect and professor of architectural drawing in Venice. In 1932, he was hired by Paolo Venini, founder of Venini Glassworks, as an artistic consultant to the company. Until 1947, he worked closely with Venini master glass blowers and Mr. Venini himself to create more than two dozen styles, in the process pioneering techniques, silhouettes, and colors that thoroughly modernized the ancient tradition of glass blowing. On the Venetian island of Murano, where the glass-blowing tradition reaches back hundreds of years, the Venini factory became a center of innovation, with Scarpa leading the way. His experimentation ventured into surface texture, and he explored a range of vivid hues and colors ranging from intense reds and blacks to subtle earth tones. Radical in nature, his glass pieces went far beyond being perceived merely as decorative or utilitarian objects, with one critic writing that “this production is really at the avant-garde of modernity.”
The 44 superb examples of Scarpa’s work in glass in Dr. Landau and Ms. Kahane’s gift to the Metropolitan Museum span this extraordinary creative partnership and include notable works from the major techniques established under Scarpa’s guidance at Venini:
The exhibition Venetian Glass by Carlo Scarpa: The Venini Company, 1932–1947— which included all 44 Scarpa works in the current gift—was on view at the Metropolitan Museum from November 5, 2013, through March 2, 2014. It was an adaptation of Carlo Scarpa. Venini 1932–1947, organized by the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, and Pentagram Stiftung for presentation at Le Stanze del Vetro, Venice, in 2012, curated by Marino Barovier. At the Metropolitan Museum, the exhibition was organized by Nicholas Cullinan, Curator, assisted by Mary Clare McKinley, Research Assistant, both of the Museum’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art. The exhibition was made possible in part by the Jane and Robert Carroll Fund.
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July 11, 2014
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