A must-see exhibition in Venice gives a rare overview of the extraordinary glass lighting created by the Venini glassworks in Murano 1921 – 1985. Housed in Le Stanze del Vetro (the glass rooms) of the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, it offers a breathtaking sweep through sixty years of peerless production. Getting there is a delight too, as San Giorgio occupies its own little island across the canal south of San Marco, so adding a scenic vaporetto crossing to the enjoyment.

Venini 1920s chandelier

Carlo Scarpa

Greeting you at the entrance are two outstanding ceiling pieces – impossible to call them lamps as each one is composed of myriad components. The first is a reproduction of a mammoth, assymetrical chandelier designed by the architect Carlo Scarpa for the Veneto pavilion at Turin’s 1961 Italia exhibition. The masterpiece contains about 4000 polyhedrons – an immense challenge to reproduce.

A reproduction of Carlo Scarpa’s chandelier, originally made for the Veneto pavilion in 1961

Immediately after, another show-stopper, the Velario built in 1951 for the ceiling of the Palazzo Grassi. It was later taken apart then re-assembled for this exhibition, so visible for the first time in 40 years. You can assess the vast scale of this piece from the human heads marvelling at it below.

Carlo Scarpa’s Velario ceiling made for the Palazzo Grassi in 1951

Then come a series of unique lamps starting with art nouveau, segueing into streamlined art deco and ending with 1980s-style multi-coloured flourishes, Gio Ponti and Ettore Sottsass included.

Ceiling lamps

Enlightened by this array of superlative design, I exited – to be confronted by another Venetian light-show, looking in the direction of Murano! Hard to beat.

For more on Venice read my posts here and here

On the quay of San Giorgio – more light