Glasstress: Venetian glass today

17 September 2022 - 29 January 2023

Millesgården Museum, Lidingö, SE

The island of Murano is located in the shallow Venetian Lagoon that surrounds Venice. Glass has been produced here since the 1200s at a safe distance from the palaces and art treasures of Venice, as a precaution against fire. Murano glassmakers created and produced glass that was almost transparent, which was a very exclusive feature, since glass of earlier times was often discoloured. The glassmakers had discovered that by adding manganese, the problem of cloudy glass was eliminated.

Today, there are around one hundred glass studios on Murano. Berengo Studio was founded in 1989 by Venetian Adriano Berengo. Inspired by the patronage of Peggy Guggenheim, who in the 1950s and 1960s invited masters such as Jean Cocteau, Max Ernst and Marc Chagall to work on glass on Murano, Berengo resolved to bring new life to Venetian glass. He wanted to give it a revival by engaging contemporary artists. Since the start, Berengo has collaborated with around 300 artists and designers from around the globe. Working together with glass masters, trained in traditional arts and crafts, they have created contemporary art. Berengo Studio, also houses a casting studio in which glass masters can mould sculptures, allowing for broader artistic expression.

The glass masters at Berengo Studio make it possible for artists to work in a medium that is often new to them. This is a project that requires dialogue; a challenge that stimulates and generates new neural pathways for the artist. An ancient craft is given a new form of expression. The material, glass, is common for all the artists, giving them all the same foundation. Adriano Berengo coined this concept Glasstress and the outcome has been presented in numerous exhibitions since 2009, both at the Venice Biennale and abroad. In 2011, Glasstress was also shown here at Millesgården. Now we once more welcome Glasstress, with the same concept, but with new artwork.

The participating artists in the exhibition all use the same material and address a wide variety of political issues such as the environment and climate, racism and gender equality. The Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has collaborated with Berengo Studio since 2017. The exhibition includes his Black Chandelier. This artwork alludes to the classical 18th century chandeliers that wealthy Venetian families commissioned for their palaces. However, instead of bouquets of varicoloured decorative flowers and leaves, the viewer is met by something entirely different.

This exhibition is a collaboration with Berengo Studio in Murano, Italy.