Paolo Venini and His Furnace


A protagonist of Murano glass in the 20th century, Paolo Venini (1895–1959) with his passionate activity spanning almost forty years, made a decisive contribution to the vitality of the art of glass, achieving extraordinary results soon recognised also internationally. A native of Milan and a former partner in the Cappellin Venini firm, in 1925 he founded the V.S.M. Venini & C. glassworks with Napoleone Martinuzzi and Francesco Zecchin as partners, from whom he separated in 1932. Becoming president of the company, he worked untiringly as the undisputed director and manager of the Venini firm up to his death, which occurred in 1959. In defining the catalogue of the glassworks, he also contributed as the inventor of new series of glass pieces in the mid-1930s, but in particular during the 1950s.

This volume, the fruit of in-depth research based mainly on the unpublished material coming from the Venini Historical Archive, illustrates principally this aspect of his activity through a succession of some three hundred models. For the greater part of these Paolo Venini had recourse to the traditional Murano techniques, of which he gave a refined and innovative interpretation, resulting in the Zanfirico reticello, Mosaico zanfirico and Mosaico multicolore series and the highly coloured a murrine glass pieces. The influence of Nordic design was also significant, being reinterpreted through Murano eyes. The volume also documents the contribution of the artists who worked with him intermittently between the 1930s and the 1950s, called upon by Venini himself or arriving independently because of their interest in glass and/or the quality of the work at the furnace. Two hundred and fifty glass pieces tell the story of the collaboration of the Swedish ceramic artist Tyra Lundgren, of Gio Ponti, Piero Fornasetti, the painters Eugène Berman and Riccardo Licata, but also the Americans Ken Scott and Charles Lin Tissot. To them must be added the architects, Massimo Vignelli and Tobia Scarpa, and the Norwegian designer, Grete Korsmo.