Annual Basch Glass Exhibition Brings Venetian Masters

Arts & Culture


Not all that glitters is gold, and Dr. Richard and Barbara Basch have set out to prove as much each year with an annual exhibition featuring selected works from their extensive glass collection. Opening January 9 in the Basch Gallery at Ringling College of Art and Design, this year’s exhibition, entitled Glass Masters of Venice Featuring La Famiglia Salvadore, presents the work of famed Italian maestros such as Lino Tagliapietra and Davide Salvadore and his two sons. The occasion also marks the debut of a sizable wall installation of glass and metal created by the elder Salvadore and for the Basches.

Born in Murano—a Venetian island famed for its glass artists—both Salvadore and Tagliapietra grew up surrounded by studio glass and their lives became molded by it. Salvadore came into the fold as a young boy helping his grandfather build kilns and quickly began working with acclaimed glass artists such as Alfredo Barberini and Loredano Rosin before moving on to collaborate with fashion houses like Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent. Tagliapietra apprenticed at the age of 12 and earned the title maestro at only 21, working in various Muranese glass factories before coming to the US to teach at the Pilchuck Glass School and bring the Old World lessons and techniques to a crop of young American artists.

And the command of the medium by both is on display in Glass Masters of Venice. Ringling College Curator of Exhbitions Mark Ormond agrees. This is the eighth exhibition from the Basches collection that Ormond has curated, but the enthusiasm has not waned. “To spend time with these objects in the Basch Gallery during the next two months is to not only marvel in the imagination of their creation,” he says, “but also be dazzled by the technical skill and prowess required to turn glass into an art form.”

From the visibly complex creations where Salvadore brings to bear murine and blown glass in great glittering representations of fanciful mandolins and lutes looking like something out of Greek mythology to Tagliapietra’s more abstract and amorphous artifacts covered in intricate carvings and interior patterns, each represents studio glass at peak artistry, evincing a number of techniques brought to form. For some of the largest pieces, Salvadore’s two sons, Mattia and Marco, glass artists in their own right, enter the equation and make the art a family affair.

Opening January 9, Glass Masters of Venice runs in the Basch Gallery through March 25 with weekly Wednesday tours led by Barbara Basch. In addition, Ringling College faculty will host talks in the gallery on January 12, February 2 and February 16, led by Shawn Petterson, Vicky Randall and Mark Anderson respectively. And March 13, international artist and former Dale Chihuly collaborator Richard Royal will lead his own discussion in the gallery.

Pictured: Untitled by Davide Salvadore. Photo courtesy of Ringling College.

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