The glass sculptor Dale Chihuly once said, “Glass is transparent, hard to understand. It is formed from sand, fire and human breath ” it is the cheapest material and yet the most magical.” While glass has served artists for centuries, it™s a material that remains relatively unexplored in contemporary practice. The Italian entrepreneur Adriano Berengo wanted to change this. Following in the footsteps of Peggy Guggenheim, whose involvement in Fucina degli Angeli (Force of Angels) brought some of the most prolific artists of the mid-20th century ” including Oscar Kokoshka, Alexander Calder and Marc Chagall ” to Venice to work with the city™s skilled glass artisans, Berengo opened his own glass studio in Venice in 1989 to œhelp artists translate their ideas, their projects and sometimes their dreams into glass sculptures.” Since its inception, the studio has worked with artists like Tony Cragg, Jan Fabre, Vik Muniz, Thomas Schütte, Fred Wilson and Zhang Huan. In 2009, Berengo set up Venice Projects as an exhibition space for the glass works made in the studio, and concurrently, he initiated his first exhibition of the collection, “Glasstress,” at the 2009 Venice Biennale.
“Glasstress New York: New Art From the Venice Biennales,” which opened yesterday and runs through June 10 at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), brings the best from the more than 100 glass works previously exhibited in Venice to New York. It features works by 24 artists, including Kiki Smith, Vik Muniz, Yutaka Sone, Patricia Urquiola, Tony Oursler and Mike and Doug Starn. œOut of the whole body of work, we chose those that made the most sense here in New York and also that look the freshest to our own eye,” says David McFadden, the museum’s chief curator. Among the highlights are Jan Fabre™s Bic pen-ink-painted glass doves and pigeons, whose bright blue excrement drips down from the ledge on which they are perched. According to McFadden, all the artists selected are transforming the perception of glass as a pristine material: œThese artists are really challenging ideas of the traditional beauty of glass,” he says. “They are doing things that are bold, blunt and coarse and that really bring out new qualities of the glass.” Michael Joo™s velvet ropes (“Access Denied, 2011″), for example, made with mirrored blown glass, plays with the idea of protection versus fragility, while the British artist Luke Jerram created what he calls œGlass Microbiology,” using potentially fatal diseases like swine flu and malaria as subject matter. The intricate and elegant three-dimensional representations of the viruses, seen as if under a microscope, play elegantly with color and light and offer beauty to an otherwise vilified subject matter. Working in many techniques and styles of glass and glass-making, from traditional Muranese to industrial Pyrex, the artists had free rein in the creative process, says Berengo: œIn my experience, I see that artists are always on the lookout for a new material, and they see what I do as opening up the possibilities of new exploration.”
Source : http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/15/breaking-the-mold-glasstress-at-the-museum-of-arts-and-design/