Never mind that he's well into his eighth decade, Lino Tagliapietra is constantly testing the boundaries of his own skills and imagination, taking color, pattern, and form to new levels of complexity. In a field where many successful glass artists become trapped making one type of work, Lino is constantly reinventing -- from exploration of ever-more-intricate patterning, to unusual vessel shapes on the pipe, to leaving the pipe behind to innovate large-scale glass panels that take shape in a kiln. His startling range is testament to his versatility as a Muranese maestro, a title he earned at the age of 21, when he had already spent a decade learning the centuries-old techniques. His last 65 years have been spent pushing glass-working techniques into new directions, and this spirit seem to be only intensifying as he advances in years. This summer, two leading glass galleries on the East Coast -- Heller Gallery in New York City and Schantz Galleries in Stockbridge, Massachusetts -- featured solo exhibitions of the master artist with openings one week apart. Though some overlap couldn't be avoided, both dealers feature exclusive works, so any serious collector or artist has no choice but to visit both Heller and Schantz to see what glass can do in the expert hands of an inveterate innovator.
In exchanges with the Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet, Doug Heller of Heller Gallery and Jim Schantz of Schantz Galleries shared their respective takes on this unique artist and reflected on some of the most important works in their unique exhibitions.
The show, "Odyssey" at Heller Gallery represents an intellectual expansion of Tagliapietra's work. Employing cane and murrini, but at a larger scale than what is possible in glassblowing, Lino created fused panels at Bullseye Glass in Portland, Oregon, creating magnificent color fields and intricate heavy-weight patterning. Doug Heller explains how he sees the panels as "dramatically different [from the blown forms and yet they] allow Lino to show his great love of color and pattern in a more painterly way." Presenting these panels in the same visual field as the blown forms, Heller gives equal weight to both, exhibiting at one time Lino's masterful ability as well as the exuberance with which he experiments with evocative image-making through glass.
In Stockbridge Massachusetts, Schantz Galleries also presents Lino's classical work, but here there is the exclusive opportunity to view the master's newest series, "Florencia," providing context of Lino's skill and highlighting his willingness to go beyond previous conceptions. On view now through the end of July, the exhibit, "LINO", is comprised of over 30 works and is divided between Lino's use of Venetian glass techniques and his newer work with expressive cane applications. Jim Schantz explains that there is "a range of recent other expressive cane works, fused panels as Masai Installation and classic pieces. [It is] a very comprehensive exhibition that includes his latest innovations with the medium of glass". Lino's work is dynamic and expressive, demanding space for space and lighting, which Schantz provides, dedicating the majority of their first floor gallery to Lino's work. Situated next to Lino's previous signature work Schantz provides a clean juxtaposition through which to contrast Lino's newer work. A chronology is offered where "you can see the lineage connection throughout the work, the relationship of the panels and the influence of them on the later expressive murine applications, ultimately leading to the most recent pure of the bowl forms which offer a 'canvas' to display the floral patterning of 'Florencia,'" said Schantz.
Lino has traveled extensively, and both galleries exhibit works titled to connect the saturated color pallete of his glass forms to the hues and qualities of light experienced during those trips. Harmonious elements of his life are uniquely reflected in the glass, bringing the viewer ever closer to both the experience of the location their title refers to and to the life experiences of Lino Tagliapietra himself. In agreement, Jim Schantz states, "I believe 'Florencia' refers not only to Florentine Renaissance design, but to the energy of the Florentine culture itself."
In both galleries, Lino's love of the medium manifests in the masterful work, shining through with a personal connection. Schantz describes each work as capturing the appetite that Lino has for life; "each tells a story about a specific interpretation of life experience. The passion within the work is the result of Lino’s great passion for his life and his work. "
In a separate conversation that bolsters the above remarks, Doug Heller tells Glass that, "he may be an octogenarian, but Lino Tagliapietra is at the height of his creative powers and truly at one with material. It's inspiring to experience the vitality and optimism that his glass radiates".
Something to look forward to is the show for the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art in Alabama from November 10, 2018, through January 20, 2019, that Jim Schantz has been asked to curate. It promises to be Lino's first museum exhibition in the southeastern U.S.
IF YOU GO:
Through July 31, 2018
3 Elm Street
Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 01262
"Lino Tagliapietra: Odyssey"
Through August 17th, 2018
303 10th Ave. (bt 27th St. and 28th St.)
New York, NY 10001