Lino Tagliapietra picks Museum of Glass for permanent legacy gallery
TACOMA, Wash. – On Saturday, March 4, the Museum of Glass hosted an exclusive 200-person celebration of the legendary Italian glass artist Lino Tagliapietra. Surrounded by family, friends and colleagues as well as artists the maestro has inspired, Tagliapietra made his final appearance in the United States. The artist plans to retire and spend his time with his family in Italy. The highlight of the evening was the announcement that Tagliapietra has selected the Museum of Glass as the place for his work and legacy. The artist will contribute art from his own archive that will fill a new permanent gallery space at the Museum of Glass.
Tagliapietra has had an immeasurable impact on the glass art movement and glass artists during his long career. He has trained and mentored many young glassblowers, passing on his knowledge and techniques to future generations. Simply put, the studio glass movement would not be what it is today without Tagliapietra. The Museum of Glass’s goal for this new permanent gallery is to highlight Tagliapietra’s mastery and vision, with the hope that it inspires future generations of glass artists to continue to push the boundaries of the medium and galvanizes viewers to gain deeper understanding of its history and possibilities as it continues to evolve.
“It is an honor to have worked for and alongside Lino. His contributions to the progression of the studio glass movement cannot be overstated, and his drive and passion for the material is nearly unmatched. To hear Lino say, over the years, that the Museum of Glass is one of his favorite places to work gives me and the entire Hot Shop staff an immense sense of pride. And to be a part of and witness Lino’s energy on the Hot Shop floor has been a highlight of my career. I cannot wait for his story to be displayed in our galleries,” said Museum of Glass Hot Shop Director Ben Cobb.
Tagliapietra has visited the Museum of Glass frequently since 2007. Since then, the artist has completed 19 residencies and appearances in the museum’s Hot Shop to standing-room-only audiences, delighting thousands of visitors both in person and around the world through the Hot Shop Livestream. The museum has held three major exhibitions of Tagliapietra’s work, the first in 2008, titled Lino Tagliapietra: In Retrospect, a Modern Rennaissance in Italian Glass. This exhibition traveled to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery, the Chrysler Museum of Art, the Palm Springs Art Museum, and the Flint Institute of Art, which helped propel the recognition of the great Italian maestro. In 2012, the Museum of Glass presented Maestro: Recent Works by Lino Tagliapietra, and in 2014, Celebrating Lino Tagliapietra opened in the museum’s galleries.
Tagliapietra’s legacy lies in his mastery of the material and his ability to imagine the possibilities of glass as an artistic medium. His unique style, characterized by intricate designs, uncommon attention to detail and bold use of color, combines traditional Venetian glassblowing techniques with modern elements. His signature pieces, many of which will be on display in the new Museum of Glass gallery, feature complex movement and flow.
“Museum of Glass is the recipient of the Lino Archives, collected over the years Lino spent in the Pacific Northwest and carefully assembled by his studio, dating back to the mid-90s. The work shows the evolution of Lino as an artist and demonstrates intricate Italian techniques in addition to the artistic freedom that the United States gave him. Lino grew as an artist in the United States by pushing the techniques into new territory, exploring their revolutionary potential with a boldness entrenched in years of experience with the material. His gift to the Pacific Northwest is the document of this time,” said Museum of Glass Curator of Education Susan Warner.
While the announcement of the planned Tagliapietra gallery at the Museum of Glass began the celebration, audiences were also treated to the maestro’s final blow on a hot shop floor — a once-in-a-lifetime experience watching a master take their final bow. Sitting at the bench orchestrating his loyal team of Dave Walters, John Kiley, Dante Marioni, Jen Elek, Nancy Callan and DH McNabb (and the Museum of Glass Hot Shop Team), Tagliapietra chose to make first a Florencia, in which complex patterns made with murrine (tiny slices of cane) create an exuberant and complex pattern. For the finale, the maestro made a reticello (a crisscross cane pattern) Dinosaur, with its signature gracefully attenuated and gestural neck. These two pieces exemplify the maestro’s ability to push the ancient Venetian techniques into uncharted territory and epitomize the daring and bold characteristics of contemporary American glass that he made possible.
“It is very hard to explain in words what happened during these days. I would have never expected this much love and attention. It is true that this highlights the end of my journey. However, all the recognition, honors, awards and friends that surrounded this event made my end of the journey very special and much less bitter,” said Tagliapietra.
Tagliapietra has had a profound impact on the world of glass art, and has been a cherished friend of the Museum of Glass since the institution opened. The Museum of Glass is honored to now be a permanent part of his unparalleled 45 years of glass in the United States. By giving this work to the Museum of Glass, the Tagliapietra family knows that his archive will always be accessible to the public. Planning for the Lino Tagliapietra gallery at the Museum of Glass is underway.
About Lino Tagliapietra
Lino Tagliapietra has worked with glass for more than 70 years. The maestro is world-renowned and revered for his incredible manipulation of glass and innovative creations. Tagliapietra was born in Murano, Italy in 1934 and became an apprentice glassblower at age 11. Even at a young age, Tagliapietra exhibited an immense dexterity for glass and was appointed the title of maestro when he was just 21. In 1979, he visited Seattle for the first time and introduced students at the Pilchuck Glass School to the traditions of Venetian glassblowing. This cross-cultural collaboration shaped the identity of American glassblowing and offered Tagliapietra an opportunity to expand his horizons internationally.