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Modern Italian glass from the Martin Cohen Collection on view at Sotheby's New York
An Important and Rare "Mosaico" Vase, Circa 1924‐25. Estimate: $150/250,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s announces the landmark sale A Focused Obsession, Modern Italian Glass: The Martin Cohen Collection, which will be held in New York on 14 December 2016.

Assembled over the past four decades by esteemed New York collector Martin Cohen, this encyclopedic collection showcases some of the most important treasures of 20th-century Italian glass in private hands today: from the Ercole Barovier’s sublime Mosaico vase, circa 1924-1925, to exceptional examples of Carlo Scarpa’s coveted Sommersi and Bollicine series, to Thomas Stearns transcendent masterpiece, Facades of Venice. The Cohen Collection represents the full artistic and historic legacy of the most iconic glass designers and furnaces of the 20th century, demonstrating their unique mastery of color and technique in exquisite form.

The December auction follows Sotheby’s spring sale of Venetian glass emerging from another notable New York collection. Fifty-one works together totaled $1.3 million, well in excess of expectations, and were led by another masterwork vase by Fulvio Bianconi that brought $225,000.

The 85 pieces on offer from the Cohen Collection, which carry estimates starting under $5,000, will be on public view in Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries beginning 10 December, alongside the auctions of Important Design and Tiffany: Dreaming in Glass.

Thomas Stearns was the first American to work for the renowned glass firm Venini, producing some of the most exciting, avant-garde and technically-challenging designs in the history of the medium. For Stearns, craft became synonymous with art, bridging the gap between functional and sculptural glass, decorative art with fine art. Utilizing asymmetrical forms, he built upon ancient techniques and adapted them within a framework inspired by contemporary American abstract expressionists.

"Facades of Venice", 1962. Expected to sell in the region of $400,000
The Facades of Venice from 1962 is one of Thomas Stearns’ seminal works, produced during his short tenure at Venini. Both this series and the Capello del Doge series were exhibited at the 1962 Biennale and awarded a gold medal which, sadly, was revoked due to Stearns’ American roots. Infusing inspiration from post-war color field painters such as Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko, the work was elegantly-contemplative in theory, yet complex in execution. In his highly-personalized aesthetic, Stearns took an arrangement of fused glass rods to create a form free in movement and expressionistic in his choice of complimentary and contrasting hues. Stearns’ cutting edge designs were produced in very limited numbers due to the technical competence required for execution – as a result, these works are of exceptional rarity and challenging to collect

Born into a family business of traditional glassmaking, it was here that Ercole Barovier developed the technical and artistic foundation upon which he would build one of the longest and most storied careers in art and design within the history of 20th-century Venetian art. The Cohen Collection presents iconic works clearly demonstrating Barovier’s development from the pre- to post-war periods. From the 30s and 40s, his thick glassed medusa and mugnoni vases convey soft shapes and sculptural manipulation of material, while the post-war pieces of the 50s and 60s exhibit vibrantly colored embellishment in the tessare and murrine works.

An Important and Rare "Mosaico" Vase, Circa 1924-25. Estimate $150/250,000
The Cohen Collection features an example of Barovier’s 1960 mosaico vase – one of the artist’s rarest and most sought after techniques. Author Helmut Ricke stresses that this technique, often influenced by contemporary textile design, conveys the growing dominance of decoration, while form increasingly loses its intrinsic value, becoming a vehicle for elaborate and intricate patterns – all clearly evident in the present piece. This work was produced in very limited quantities and exhibits striking blues, reds and greens in a graphic, yet organic manner, and stands as one of the highest expressions of Barovier’s technical ability.

Carlo Scarpa is an artist, designer and architect inextricably linked with Venice. Accepted to the Royal Academy of Fine Art in 1920 at the age of 14, Scarpa dedicated himself to developing his passion for art, architecture and design. Drawing on long established cultural traditions in glass making, while exploring works by contemporaries and the methods of fellow craftsmen, Scarpa learned glass making techniques and developed his own artistic voice. His work was celebrated in 2013–14 in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s retrospective Venetian Glass by Carlo Scarpa: The Venini Company, 1932–1947.

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December 10, 2016

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Modern Italian glass from the Martin Cohen Collection on view at Sotheby's New York

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