Scarpa’s Murrino Glass

Carlo Scarpa and Paolo Venini, “Roman Murrine Dish,” c. 1950, Murano, Christie’s Collection (http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=5116257)

Although Scarpa did not experiment with the very popular millefiori glass technique, he did work heavily with the murrino technique, which was revived in Murano in the 1870’s. In 1940, Scarpa created a series of murrino plates and bowls. The glass art in this series features a combinatin of bright red and blue pieces that are intricately decorated with web-like and spotted patterns in black glass.

A murrino dish designed by Scarpa and Venini from 1950 is now the Christie’s Collection. This example of murrino shows texture through the emphasis of color and transparency in the glass. The addition of small black details, which contrast with the bright red, give dimension and texture to the vessel. It creates an optical illusion that draws one’s eye towards the brightest and darkest parts of the dish. The murrino technique used by Scarpa and Venini allows light to become a design element in the work. Not only is the bowl a piece of art in itself, so are the shadows that it casts in light. The red, black, and clear glasses are translucent enough to allow light to pass through and reflect their bright hues upon whichever surface they sit. Although a bowl such as Venini and Scarpa’s could technically be used in a practical manner, filling the bowl would result in the loss of these affect created by the light. As opposed to older examples of murrino and millefiori glass, Scarpa’s modern works are not based solely on the decoration of the glass itself. They dive into other realms of design by using light as a material.

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