The Primavera Collection

by Sara Blumberg

The Primavera Collection expresses a superb and highly personal vision of 20th century Murano glass. Assembled by the gallery’s directors, Audrey Friedman and Haim Manishevitz over the course of thirty years, the collection reflects a true understanding of the field and its many permutations. With an eye for exceptional quality, Audrey and Haim’s approach to Italian glass conveys their great passion for the history of art and design.

Like all great collectors and dealers, Haim and Audrey are consummate observers. In the early 1980s, at a time when little was known about Italian glass outside of Italy, several fortuitous events led them to a life-long pursuit of Murano glass. As prominent dealers in 20th century decorative arts, the Primavera Gallery cultivated a diverse following. Andy Warhol was a particularly devoted fan of the gallery and its many collections. During one visit, Warhol surprised the gallerists when he expressed an interest in Italian glass. Soon after this casual but prescient conversation, the Fifty/50 gallery in New York held a now legendary exhibition—Venini and the Murano Renaissance, Italian Glass of the 1940s and 50s. With their interests piqued, Haim and Audrey acquired pieces during this exhibition, several of which appear in this sale.

The following autumn, Haim and Audrey traveled to Milan and had the encounter of a lifetime. While wandering through the Brera district they discovered a small gallery, Galleria In.Arte, owned by the legendary dealer, curator and author Maurizio Cocchi. Inspired by the Italian glass works in the gallery and the dynamism of Cocchi himself, a friendship began that both Haim and Audrey describe as one of the most meaningful of their lives. Over the course of many visits and travels together, Cocchi facilitated the acquisition of some of the rarest and most beautiful pieces now presented in Important Italian Glass: The Primavera Collection.

Maurizio Cocchi introduced Haim and Audrey to important figures in the field of Italian glass, among them the artist Fulvio Bianconi. Presented here is a rare drawing by Bianconi which shows Haim, Audrey and Maurizio visiting Bianconi at his home in 1985. Beyond the joyful expressiveness of the drawing is the story of this particular visit—with several works acquired on that day (visible on the table in the foreground), that are included in this important sale. Over the course of many visits with Bianconi, Haim and Audrey procured rare examples of his work and naturally these pieces hold a particular place of honor in the Primavera Collection.

It has been a pleasure to work with Haim and Audrey as we are great admirers of their devotion to a field we love. Driven first by an insistence on quality and provenance, they were drawn to works that resonated with them on a personal level. This approach led to the acquisition of pieces both famous and obscure— a true celebration of the artistry, diversity and technical mastery that define 20th century Murano glass. We are honored to present this wonderful and unique collection.