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Detroit Institute of Arts Presents Murano: Glass

DETROIT, MICHIGAN.- Over 200 amazing glass artworks, from the red hot furnaces on the island of Murano, will illuminate the galleries of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) in the very cool exhibition Murano: Glass from the Olnick Spanu Collection. Murano glass is prized for contemporary elegance, radical design and extraordinary craftsmanship, and these stunning works are considered among the finest examples in the world. The exhibition will be on view from Dec. 12, 2004 to Feb. 27, 2005.

Drawn exclusively from the collection of Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu and curated by Venetian-born glass scholar and historian Marino Barovier, the North American tour of the exhibition offers a comprehensive look at works from 1914 to 2002 by the most highly regarded artists and designers from the Murano workshops. Pieces from the early-to mid-1900s by artists including Carlo Scarpa, Thomas Stearns, Paolo Venini and Vittorio Zecchin will be on view along with contemporary works by such artists as Cristiano Bianchin, Laura Diaz de Santillana, Lino Tagliapietra and Giorgio Vigna. This juxtaposition will provide an understanding of the evolution of the art of glassmaking in Murano.

Exclusively in Detroit, the exhibition will be supplemented with Detroit Collects Murano Glass, an exhibition of approximately 20 objects of Murano glass from local collectors. Included are several pieces of vintage Murano glass from the 1950s and 60s with works from noted artist Fulvio Bianconi, as well as works from contemporary artists such as Yoichi Ohira.

"Over the past two decades, glass has become a focus of collecting in the United States generally, but nowhere more so than in the Detroit area,” said Graham W. J. Beal, director of the DIA. “Presenting such a distinctive collection as Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu’s at the DIA has a particular resonance as is demonstrated by the group of related pieces from local collections."

Murano glass is prized for both its superb design and technical innovation, which result from a collaboration between designers and master glassworkers. The designer chooses shapes, colors and textures and visualizes unique objects. After completing drawings for a proposed new style, the designer joins the glassworker in the factory to make a prototype. A successful piece relies on the designer’s collaboration with the master glassworker, who understands the glassmaking technique and the inherent physical properties of glass.

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