Carlo Scarpa Rare Inciso vase

by Jim Oliveira

Ever willing to experiment and develop new techniques, Carlo Scarpa’s Incisi (incised) series for Venini was among his most innovative. Working with Venini’s master grinders and engravers, Scarpa designed unique artifacts with abstract, geometric motifs.

In this piece we see a deeply cut, abstract wave design enhanced by a Velato finish. Executed in sea-green glass, it conveys the feeling of wave-action and the Venetian lagoon but in a playful, modernist style reminiscent of the Catalan painter Joan Miró or the collages of Henri Matisse.

Motif study for vase no. 3941, c. 1942
Period photo, 1940–1942

The imaginative design and beautiful execution of this piece make it a fine example of Scarpa’s best work for Venini. This vase is also extremely rare and the first of its kind to be presented at auction.

Carlo Scarpa 1906–1978

Carlo Scarpa was born in Venice in 1906, and died an accidental death in Japan in 1978. Like many great artists, Scarpa’s work as architect and designer is highly influential and yet remains enigmatic, illusive and hard to categorize. What is obvious in all his work is an underlying transcendental quality, an uncanny ability to create powerful emotional states in all who experience it. It is perhaps this quality that makes him one of the most beloved and revered figures in the history of 20th century Italian art and design.

Scarpa’s various biographers often point to his sensitivity to materials and his ability to evoke the past, but nothing about Scarpa is easy to define. In 1919 he enrolled in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Venice and graduated in 1926 with the title of Professor of Architecture. He did not, however, sit the pro forma exam required by the Italian government, and hence was never fully licensed as an architect.

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