Glass is an intriguing material which, as the imagination of artist Koen Vanmechelen suggests, represents the fragility of life. We enter the “Burning Falls” as Vanmechelen has just started presenting his exhibition and we immediately make his words our own.
Glass allows you to look through. And being transparent in life, as well as in your relationships with others, is more often than not what we need the most.
With this article we take you with us to discover the spaces of one of the historical glass factories in Murano. Although, before reaching Berengo Studio in Fondamenta dei Vetrai, we make a stop at Osteria ai Cacciatori for a coffee or a glass of wine – un’ombra di vino, if you wish.
Among the many glass factories in the island, Berengo Studio is surely one of the most fascinating places as it still preserves a traditional atmosphere, where the visitor is welcomed as a guest and accompanied with care into the world of glass-making. Founded in 1989 by Adriano Berengo, as of today this reality represents one of the most innovative and avant-garde places: it promotes glass by still preserving the techniques of artisanal manufacturing, encouraging the meeting of glass with international artists.
Burning Falls is an exhibition currently hosted by Fondazione Berengo Art Space. It comes to Murano from the Uffizi to celebrate a contemporary Renaissance.
With the creation of these hybrid artworks, artist Koen Vanmechelen pays homage to the union of two “extremely Italian” materials and of two iconic arts: sculpture and glass-work. On one side the resilience of Carrara marble, on the other the frailty of Murano’s glass.
Until the 15th of May 2022 – free entrance.
The headquarters: a visit to the Galleria and the Fornace
Here is where the activity was born. It is where the agreements and the collaborations with international galleries and artists actually start. It is also the space where collectors and visitors are welcomed in between unique pieces and some serial productions.
But the back is where we find the furnace. Here begins the true immersion in the glass world, where we are enthralled by the fluid and secure movements of the masters of glassmaking. In between the heating furnaces, which bring glass to a working temperature, and the fusion furnaces, which keep glass at its magmatic form at 950°, we can see Andrea Salvagno at work. It is indeed a tiring job, which as many other historic arts in Venice is suffering from a lack of manpower.
Glass is the result of the fusion of different components. Every person who creates this material, so we are told, has their own personal recipe which varies according to the desired result. A result which can change with the manufacturing processes applied after the glass is cooled down, when impurities are removed and incisions are made.
We like to think of the furnace as a workshop of ideas, where the final piece is the result of the synergetic work of more hands (and minds). From the artist, who usually proposes the design, to the master glassworker, who shapes the material and outlines its silhouette. And what about more complex creations? Looking at Sean Scully’s works the question comes by itself. Well, the glass, in between calculations and measures, needs the formation of an équipe that, just like a litmus test, decides whether the project is feasible or not – at the moment, Berengo has the support of master Massimiliano Luzi.
Foundation Berengo Art Space e Laboratory
Different is the setting in the laboratory casting, where a pool of young people from all over the world works on glass, employing the lost wax technique. The laboratory is one door’s distance from the Berengo Art Space, which is a space dedicated to artistic exhibitions where it is possible to see the old furnaces. Here the high fusion temperatures were still reached through wood and charcoal. It is also a space dedicated to those who love industrial archeology, where the candour of modern pieces is enhanced by the contrast with the old ones.
The contemporary Showroom
Opposite to the foundations. A sort of big sounding board for glass art, which welcomes visitors in between works and collaborations by different artists. Here it is also possible to purchase the pieces produced and signed by Berengo Studio.
We love to suggest this visit to those who wish to discover city traditions and the secrets of a material that never ceases to marvel us – uniting new artists, shapes, colours and materials.
To visit Berengo Studio you can book an appointment.