Glasstress Boca Raton – from Venice to South Florida

“There is every reason this year to have a world view,” Irvin Lippman, the Boca Raton Museum of Art’s Executive Director, said as South Florida boldly ushers in the new year with the national premiere of “Glasstress Boca Raton.” “Three years in the making, with 2020 being such a challenging year to coordinate an international exhibition of this size and scope, the effort serves as an important reassurance that art is an essential and enduring part of humanity.”

Most of these works in glass have never been seen elsewhere, and were handpicked by Kathleen Goncharov, the Museum’s Senior Curator who traveled to Italy in 2019. The exhibition runs through September 5, 2021 and the Museum will feature online initiatives for virtual viewing.

From Venice to Boca Raton

The 34 artists including Ai Weiwei feature in this new, never before seen edition of “Glasstress” were all invited by Adriano Berengo to work alongside his master glass artisans at the Berengo Studio on the island of Murano in the Venetian lagoon. With incredible energy, the Studio has brought a new vision on how to stimulate today’s leading artists into thinking how the medium of glass can be made into dramatic and provocative works of contemporary art.

Some of the works were completed during the pandemic lockdowns, with artists collaborating remotely via Zoom with their glass artisan partners after their initial on-site work at the studio in Venice.

“Unlike the past and the present, what comes next for our world presents itself as constant possibility, always transforming as we move forward in time,” Adriano Berengo said. “This concept of transformation has always held an affinity with glass, a medium which – as the name “Glasstress” suggests – exists in a state of constant tension. Life needs tension, it needs energy, and a vibrant exchange of ideas.”

The exhibition presents 34 new works that explore some of today’s pressing subjects, including human rights, climate change, racial justice, gender issues and politics. The Boca Raton Museum of Art has dedicated more than 6,500 square feet of exhibition space to this collection. A fully illustrated catalogue is also available.

The mission of “Glasstress” is to restore the visibility and reputation of Murano glass, after decades of closures of ancient, centuries-old glass furnaces. Instead of creating decorative objects with glass, these artists are invited to create original works, often on a massive scale. They collaborate with glass masters whose expertise has been developed over generations in Venice. Most of these artists have never worked with glass, so they unite their artistic ideas with the technical expertise of their skilled collaborators. 

The results are breathtaking.

The first installation visitors to the Museum will encounter is Sala Longhi by Fred Wilson. He created this series at Berengo Studio after the Venice Biennale exhibited his work about Black residents of Venice from the Renaissance to the present. This installation features an ornate white chandelier with 29 glass panels that mirror 18th century Venetian artist Pietro Longhi’s paintings. Instead of canvases, Wilson shows the viewer only the whites of the eyes of his Black subjects through cutouts in black reflective glass. 

About the Boca Raton Museum of Art

Kicking off its eighth decade in 2021, the Boca Raton Museum of Art encompasses a creative campus that includes the Museum in Mizner Park and the Art School. As one of South Florida’s cultural landmarks, the Museum has provided cultural and artistic service to the community, and to many visitors from around the world, since it was founded by artists in 1950. Visit bocamuseum.org/visit/virtual-visits to enjoy the Museum’s current online content, including video tours and digital gallery guides.

About Fondazione Berengo

Fondazione Berengo was founded by Adriano Berengo in 2014 as a cultural institution consolidating and strengthening his mission of marrying the Muranese glass-making tradition with contemporary art. The foundation seeks to achieve this goal through educational initiatives and an interdisciplinary program of exhibitions and special projects in collaboration with internationally acclaimed artists, designers, and architects.

In 2016, it sponsored the first retrospective of the late Dame Zaha Hadid. In 2017, Fondazione Berengo, forged a partnership with the European Institute for Human Rights and Democracy to explore ways to use art to raise awareness of human rights issues – www.fondazioneberengo.org.

About Adriano Berengo

A true Venetian, Adriano Berengo lives and works in Venice. He holds a foreign languages degree from Ca’ Foscari University (Venice) and specialized in comparative literature in a state university in New York. Adriano Berengo is the visionary behind Fondazione Berengo, “Glasstress,” and the glass factory Berengo Studio 1989 which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Following in the footsteps of Egidio Costantini and Peggy Guggenheim who introduced outstanding artists such as Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall to Murano glass, Berengo has been championing the innovative use of glass as a medium in contemporary art for 30 years by inviting more than 300 artists to work with the glass masters in Murano.

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