Lino Tagliapietra: Glass Ambition

Mallett hosts the first UK exhibition of the glass artist

Even if you were born on the Rio dei Vetri on the island of Murano, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you would become one of the world’s top glass artists. That amazing achievement is Lino Tagliapietra’s own. During a lifetime dedicated to gorgeous glass making, his work has been exhibited internationally and features in museum collections including the V&A and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art – as well as private collections. At the age of 80, he is creating some of his most stunning designs, so hosting the first UK exhibition (May 26-July 4) of his work – including a number of remarkable new pieces – is quite a coup for renowned London antiques dealer Mallett.

Tagliapietra, who was apprenticed at the age of 12 to glass maestro Archimede Seguso, has combined traditional Venetian techniques with modern experimentation to develop his own highly personal style. He creates his own glowing colours, used almost exclusively in his work, believing them to be softer and more “human”. And, while his sculptural shapes are technically complex and push the boundaries of glass making, they never lose their aesthetic appeal. Prominent among the new pieces (around £30,000-£40,000) are Dinosaur (first picture), with its playful, long, twisting “neck”; mysterious Poesia, reminiscent of an ancient apothecary jar; Stromboli, which has all the fiery, molten drama of its namesake; blue, globe-like Manaus (second picture); and Borneo (third picture), a technically brilliant example of filigrana work. “Lino pours all that he is into his extraordinary vessels and, with his most recent pieces, breaks all creative boundaries,” says Eleonore Halluitte Andrews, who has curated the Mallett show.

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Also being exhibited are historical pieces from Tagliapietra’s own private collection, which similarly demonstrate his complete mastery of the genre. It is to his credit that another mighty glass worker, Dale Chihuly, has described Tagliapietra as “the greatest glassblower there ever was”. Go, see and enjoy how a material we take for granted in everyday life can turn into physical poetry.

Lovers of glass art might also like the luminous creations of London Glassblowing or the sinuous shapes and dazzling hues of midcentury glass.

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