Mosaico Zanfirico

Among the most rare and refined of Paolo Venini’s creations, the Mosiaco Zanfirico pieces stand as a testament to his deep understanding of 20th century art and design, his impeccable taste, and his vast ambitions. 

Composed of busy Zanfirico canes compressed into a loosely formed and slightly flattened rectangular shape, this vase is a reference to the lively, juxtaposed imagery of postwar graphic design. The presence of so much clear glass between and around the arrangement of canes is handled in the same manner as negative space present in abstract paintings of the postwar period. And while the use of canes themselves could be seen as a reference to traditional Murano glass techniques, their treatment here is entirely modern.

Designed in 1954, this vase (and the series of which it is a part) was also a response to the work of Dino Martens and Archimede Seguso, both of whom exhibited well-received Zanfirico and Filigrana vessels in the previous Biennale of 1952. Not one to be outdone, Venini responded with an inventive body of new work which charged the atmosphere of Venice and Murano with a competitive and creative energy. Much of the great inventiveness associated with Murano glass during the 1950s owes its vitality to the vision and efforts of Paolo Venini.

Paolo Venini 1895–1959

Paolo Venini was born in Cusano, Italy on January 12, 1895 to a middle class Lombard family. As a young man he studied law in Milan. During the first war he was stationed near Venice where he became fascinated with the glass mosaics and stained glass of St. Mark’s cathedral. After the war he began a law practice but soon came under the influence of Venetian art and antiquities dealer Giacomo Cappellin who convinced the young Venini to join him as a business partner in a new Murano glass enterprise in 1921. Since then it has become almost impossible to discuss the life of Paolo Venini as separate from his company—all the available biographical material about him lacks personal detail and inevitably lists towards the celebrated history of the company. Venini’s biography is, therefore, the story of a man whose literal personality has been subsumed by his professional life and persona.

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Auction Results Paolo Venini