The Aesthetics Of Murano Glass

For almost thousand years Murano glass has been the synonym for elegance and uniqueness. This ancient island of glass makers in the Bay of Venice managed to survive world wars, changes of fashions and styles, new technologies, and economic crisis. What is it about Murano glass that still inspires awe and makes both experts and average customers consider Murano glass the most sought-after in the world?

The answer might be found in the book called The Art of Glass written in the early 17th century by the Florentine priest Antonio Neri. Neri described more than a hundred techniques and manufacturing procedures used by Murano glass makers through history. They were the innovators and passionate creators in constant search for new ways to express their artistic views and create beauty from sand, using their imagination and hundreds of years of heritage.

The art of glass making in Murano was constantly evolving and adapting to the demands of the clients and fashions of the time. In 15th century, when Angelo Barovier invented ‘cristallo’, the first completely transparent glass ever produced, the aesthetics of Murano glass art pieces meant simplicity and clear lines. They were emphasizing the beauty of glass in curvilinear shapes and clear, transparent medium. It was the time of greatest advancement of Murano glass making and the time of almost a cult of ingenuity among Murano artists. It was during this period that some immortal techniques were invented, like ghiaccio (ice glass) with transparent, crackled look, and incalmo, two-colored glass melted together. These techniques are today the symbols of Murano quality and artistry of the highest class.

The baroque style of 17th century brought with it more complicated forms and vivid colors, as well as animal and flower decorations. Murano glass artists responded with techniques like avventurina (sparkling, shimmering particles imbedded in the clear glass) and millefiori (thousand flowers) a flower shapes created in cross-sections of melted rods of different colors. For many contemporary glass lovers, millefiori is the most recognizable style of Murano glass.

In the 18th century Murano glass makers had to compete with glass makers from Bohemia, England and France and came up with techniques like enamel-painted milk glass, crystal ware and gilded mirrors.

Today, Murano glass making techniques are used all over the world and modern artists pay homage to the innovators from Murano. They leave their personal artistic stamp on the glass art they make, as well as the stamp of our modern times. New technologies allow new techniques and adaptations of the old ones, But, even today, the beauty and style of art pieces made in Murano present the benchmark for all other glass makers and are highly sought after by glass loves from all over the world.

Glass artists that work in Murano today are using the techniques developed in Murano through centuries and each of them has his or her own artistic preference. Some glass producers are focusing more on the mass market and are following the style currently in demand. Others are following their own muse and using styles and techniques that are more adapted to galleries than the mass market. For an average consumer, Murano glass means vivid colors and highly decorative objects. But for others, the glass art purists, the real Murano glass aesthetics means the simplicity of cristallo and its clear lines.

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