Some of the world’s leading artists breathe new life into centuries-old glassmaking with the national premiere of Glasstress 2021 Boca Raton.
From Europe to America, the world premiere of this major international show has arrived from Venice on the shores of the U.S. after three years of preparation. “There is every reason this year to have a world view,” says Irvin Lippman, the Boca Raton Museum of Art’s Executive Director, as South Florida boldly ushers in the new year with the national premiere of Glasstress 2021 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.”
The 34 artists 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. Today’s leading artists approached the medium of glass in contemporary ways, with some of their works completed during the pandemic lockdowns, collaborating remotely via Zoom with their glass artisan partners after their initial on-site work at the studio in Venice.
The exhibition is also a tribute to the resilience of Venice surviving the floods and continuing to make art through the pandemic. Most of these works in glass have never been seen elsewhere, and were handpicked by Kathleen Goncharov, Boca Raton Museum’s Senior Curator who traveled to Italy in 2019.
“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,” says Adriano Berengo. “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. The mission of Glasstress is to restore the visibility and reputation of Murano glass, after decades of closures of ancient, centuries-old glass furnaces. Among the artists in this new exhibition are: Ai Weiwei, Fred Wilson, Joyce J. Scott, Jimmie Durham, Ugo Rondinone, Fiona Banner, Vik Muniz, Monica Bonvicini, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Laure Prouvost, Renate Bertlmann, Thomas Schütte, and Erwin Wurm. Most of these works have never been seen before.
Some artists in the Glasstress exhibition identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community, including Ugo Rondinone who organized a Manhattan-wide constellation of exhibitions in honor of his husband, the poet John Giorno; Tim Tate whose artwork for this exhibition addresses how the coronavirus pandemic correlates to his experiences with the AIDS crisis; Fred Wilson, whose artwork in this show focuses on racial issues; and Monica Bonvicini who won the prestigious Golden Lion award at the 1999 Venice Biennale. Bonvincini’s visits to sadomasochist night clubs with gay friends in the 1990s are an inspiration for her artwork “Bonded,” which is featured in this exhibition.
The exhibition runs until September 5, 2021 and the Museum will feature online initiatives for virtual viewing at https://bocamuseum.org.