Museo del Vetro

Glass Museum


Luciano Gaspari

1913. Born in Venice on 22 March into a family of decorators.

1931. After attending the Art Institute, he makes his début at the group exhibition of Opera Bevilacqua La Masa.

1932. Wins the prize for the youngest painter at the XVII Biennale of Venice.

1933. Pupil of Virgilio Guidi at the Accademia di Belle Arti.

1935. Follows Guidi to Bologna. Here he attends the course of engraving techniques held by Giorgio Morandi, with whom he will maintain a long correspondence.

1936. Takes part in the Rome Quadriennale and the Venice Biennale.

1937. Completes his studies in Bologna, returns to Venice.

1938. Takes part in the Venice Biennale.

1940. Takes part in the Venice Biennale; becomes assistant to Giuseppe Cesetti, who teaches figure-painting at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice, taking over from him and holds the chair until 1983.

1943. Marries the painter Bruna Gasparini. Holds his first private exhibition, at the Galleria del Milione in Milan together with Armando Pizzinato.

1944. Exhibits 13 works in a one-man exhibition in Venice, at Carlo Cardazzo’s Galleria del Cavallino, a focal centre for Spatialism in the Veneto; although not belonging to the movement, he is close to it.

1947. Takes part in the Rome Quadriennale. Begins to work as designer for the Salviati Glassworks in Murano.

1948. Takes part in the XXIV Biennale with three paintings: Dormiente, purchased by the Galleria d’Arte Moderna of Ca’ Pesaro, Figura and Composizione. At the Palazzo Re Enzo in Bologna he takes part in the first national exhibition of contemporary art promoted by the Alliance for the Defence of Culture, (over forty artists are represented, including Afro, Cagli, Consagra, Guttuso, Leoncillo, Mafai, Turcato, …), which insists on the need for artists to confront the experiences of the European avant-garde.

1950. At the XXXVIII Collective Exhibition of the Bevilacqua La Masa he presents Donna al Mare (now in the Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna of Ca’ Pesaro).

1951. Takes part in the Rome Quadriennale.

1955. Is appointed artistic director of the Salviati, a position he will hold until 1968.

1952. Takes part in the XXV Biennale.

1956. Takes part in the XVII Biennale with the paintings Dal ciclo delle stagioni. Wins first prize in the competition organised by the Centro internazionale delle Arti e del Costume of Palazzo Grassi for designs of decorative textiles.

1958/1966. Presents original works in glass in the Section of Applied Arts at the Biennale.

1959. Takes part in the Rome Quadriennale.

1960. Receives the E.N.A.P.I. Award (Ente Nazionale per l’Artigianato e la Piccola Industria) at the XII Triennale of Milan for his design for Sets of glasses mainly for country homes or holidays, created for Salviati.

1961. Works on the great window for the Veneto pavilion at the Esposizione Italia in Turin, set up by Carlo Scarpa.

1962. Seven of his paintings are exhibited at the Biennale.

1964. Takes part in the Industrial Design Exhibition at the MoMA in New York.

1968. Steps down as artistic director of Salviati. Has his own room at the Biennale, in which he exhibits fourteen paintings from the series Germinazioni: emerging forms bathed “in the stupefaction of light”, from which all of his future poetics will develop, as he returns, for another ten years, to painting.

1971. One-man exhibition at the Galleria dei Navigli, in Milan.

1973. One-man exhibition at the Rome Quadriennale.

1981. Returns to glass; at the Palazzo Grassi exhibition, Murano Glass Today, presents models for Salviati, which will prove very successful, the Zefiro bottles and the Sasso vases.

1989-1990. For the Studio d’Arte Valmore of Vicenza he creates a series of separate pieces, displayed in March at the inaugural exhibition of Palazzo Pisani at Lonigo, near Vicenza.

1992 -1993. One-man exhibition of paintings at the Galleria Naviglio in Venezia.

1995. Many of his works from the 1950s and ’60s are displayed in the historical exhibition that the Venice Biennale devotes to the production of Murano glass.

1998. His wife dies.

2007. He dies in Venice on 22 July.

His works are conserved not only in private collections but in Italian, European and American museums, such as the Gallerie d’Arte Moderna in Venice and Rome, the Museo del Vetro in Murano, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Musée Royal d’Art et d’Histoire in Liège, the Museums of Contemporary Art in Tel-Aviv and Caifa.

The union between art, design and glass production – which arose in Murano during the 1920s and ‘30s, with the inventions first of Vittorio Zecchin and then of Carlo Scarpa – developed after the war in a fresh and different way. Totally new techniques were tried out, giving rise to such forms as “sommerso”, consisting of multiple, often coloured layers, “fumé”, corroded and iridescent surfaces, and solid glass. The idea that items of glasswork could be considered genuine and individual works of art began to make headway.
In Venice in 1953 Egidio Costantini founded the Centro Studio Pittori nell’Arte del Vetro di Murano, which Cocteau later renamed the Fucina degli Angeli: the various artists attracted to it included such names as Guidi, Guttuso, Licata, Gio Ponti, but also Braque, Calder, Chagall, Kokoschka, Le Corbusier, Lèger, Moore, Arp, Picasso … bringing designs that were then transformed into sculpture by the master glassblowers. Luciano Gaspari, however, was a painter who entered into a kind of symbiosis with the world of glass-production; he studied the great collections, scientifically assessed the techniques and established a close relationship with such masters as Alfredo Barbini, Luciano Vistosi, Paolo Martinuzzi, Loredano Rosin, above all Livio Seguso, and, later, Pino Signoretto. In 1955 he became the artistic director of Salviati, a role he threw himself into wholeheartedly and unflaggingly. His approach revealed a full mastery and innovative use of traditional techniques, proving him able to draw from the past in order to invent the future, but also to use innovations courageously and imaginatively, and to revitalise conventions – for example, by transforming simple bottles into sculptures. He tried his hand at serial productions, at individual works, at sculptures, but also at such objects as plates (the ones presented at the 1966 Biennale were extraordinary), vases, glasses and bottles: in every creation the quality of the colours and the balance between luminosity, transparency, lights and shades reveal the intense relationship between the sensibility and imagination of the painter and the perfect understanding of the potentialities of glass as material.