Glass from Finland
in the Bischofberger Collection

Curated by Kaisa Koivisto and Pekka Korvenmaa

Over 300 works from the Bischofberger collection celebrate the beauty of artistic glass in an exhibition featuring masterpieces by the most important Finnish designers of the 20th century.

The exhibition “Glass from Finland in the Bischofberger Collection”, curated by Kaisa Koivisto, curator at The Finnish Glass Museum, Riihimäki, and Pekka Korvenmaa, professor at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture (Finland), will open to the public on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice on April 13th, 2015. This important exhibition features the best of Finnish and international design thanks to the unprecedented loan of over 300 glass works from the Bischofberger private collection. The beauty of artistic glass features masterpieces by the foremost 20th century Finnish designers: Aino and Alvar Aalto, Arttu Brummer, Kaj Franck, Göran Hongell,  Gunnel Nyman, Timo Sarpaneva, Oiva Toikka and Tapio Wirkkala.

The exhibition will offer the public a special opportunity to view some very rare objects, often unique or early production pieces, which Bruno and Christina Bischofberger have collected with passion and insight over the past forty years. In the early Twenties, Finland used design as its manifesto, in an attempt to establish its autonomy and its cultural sovereignty. Some of the country’s greatest designers began to use glass to create works of art that blended tradition and experimentation.

After 1932, Finnish glass became known worldwide and served to reveal the skills and creative talent of those who would soon be regarded as the visionary geniuses of Scandinavian design – i.e. Arttu Brummer, Gunnel Nyman, Göran Hongell and Aino and Alvar Aalto. In the early Fifties, through the new spirit of optimism and international influences, designers and artists became more daring, and with their work laid to the foundations of what would become known as “the golden age of Finnish glass”.

In order to meet the functional and psychological demands of its users, designers started producing objects and works of art that were both aesthetically sophisticated and mainly referred to nature through the free use of organic shapes and curves. Along with internationally acclaimed designers such as Alvar Aalto, other artists became the new stars of Scandinavian design, such as Kaj Franck, Gunnel Nyman, as well as Tapio Wirkkala, who is considered to be the symbol of the international success of post-war Finnish design.

During the Sixties and Seventies, colour and energy became the main focus of Finnish design; the glass works became colourful and were given elaborate shapes. Oiva Toikka designed glass birds, which became Iittala’s iconic trademark. Through his irreverent approach to the glass medium and tradition, Toikka represents the connection between the golden era of the Fabulous Fifties and a more contemporary design.

This rich collection, curated by Kaisa Koivisto and Pekka Korvenmaa for LE STANZE DEL VETRO brings to the public the greatest examples of a century-long glass production, with all its declinations and variations: shapes and objects that have rewritten the history of both Scandinavian and international design. To quote the motto of Iittala: “The shape that moves. And the movement never stops”.


View the catalogue

Gunnel Nyman. Pärlbandet (Filo di perle). Vaso, 1947. Nuutajärvi. Collezione Bischofberger, Svizzera. Foto: Rauno Träskelin

Timo Sarpaneva. Kajakki (Kayak). Ciotola, 1953. Iittala. Collezione Bischofberger, Svizzera. Foto: Rauno Träskelin

Alvar Aalto. Aalto-kukka (Fiore Aalto). Piatto, ciotole e vaso, 1939. Karhula
. Collezione Bischofberger, Svizzera. Foto: Rauno Träskelin

Arttu Brummer. Finlandia. Vaso, 1945. Riihimäki. Collezione Bischofberger, Svizzera. Foto: Rauno Träskelin

Oiva Toikka. Pampulavaasi (Vaso pompon). Vaso, 1968. Nuutajärvi, pezzo unico. Collezione Bischofberger, Svizzera. Foto: Rauno Träskelin