An outsider in the fascinating world of glass, a genius of stylistic figures and novel formulations, a master of creative polychromy …
Luciano Vistosi was born in Murano on 24 February 1931.
From a very young age, while still a student, he breathed in the scent of glass in the family furnace and learnt all its secrets, driven by a curiosity and inventiveness that would bear fruit when, in 1952, on the death of his father, he founded Vetreria Vistosi with his brother and uncle.
With foresight, he foresaw the future success of object-design and, by creating it himself and involving such prestigious names as Magistretti, Sottsass, Zanuso, Aulenti, and many others, he inaugurated a happy season of production that successfully projected Venetian glass onto a stage that was no longer and not only tourist-oriented, but rather a fortunate symbiosis of modern refinement and creativity. The inventive freshness that can be found in the lamps, cups and generally in the objects of use successfully created by Luciano Vistosi until the 1970s, subtends what is the true outcome of his talent. Sculpture.
CAREER AND EXHIBITIONS
His first solo exhibition, in 1968, at the Galleria Alfieri in Venice, revealed to the public an artist who was already mature and rich in a new poetic of great plastic value. Through the glass sculptures he exhibited here, the refinement of his technique and at the same time his overwhelming love for this material emerges, a love that would never abandon him.
In the same year he had a solo exhibition in San Francisco, and in the following decade others in Venice, Cologne and Düsseldorf. At the beginning of the 1980s, the Ca’Pesaro Museum of Modern Art in Venice dedicated a large solo exhibition to him, which further decreed his success, both with the public and with critics.
Exhibitions in Madrid, Florence, Segovia and Milan followed at close intervals.
At the same time, from 1973 onwards, he was invited to group exhibitions all over the world, in the most prestigious museums and galleries: from the Landesmuseum in Kassel to the Hankyu Gallery in Osaka, from the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art in Sapporo to the Brinkmann Gallery in Bonn, from the National Building Museum in Washington to the Kunsthaus in Cologne, and many more. After years of study and design, in 1985 he produced, entirely in glass, the model for the ‘Accademia Bridge’ that was exhibited at the World Expo in Tsukuba in the spring of the same year.
Starting from this provocative and revolutionary idea, a decade later, a decidedly more feasible and concrete project took shape, for a bridge to replace the wooden one at the gates of the Venice Arsenal: his model, approximately eight metres long, was exhibited with enormous success at the Aichi World Expo in 2005.
In 1986 he was invited to the XLII International Art Biennale in Venice and in 1989 to the 20th Bienal Internacional in São Paulo, Brazil.
In 1994, he made a lagoon-green glass cross for St Mark’s Basilica, supported by a bronze stele and composed of a hundred squared blocks, which was placed in the ancient crypt below the Altar Maggiore in December of that year. A shy and reserved man, Luciano Vistosi infuses his art with a vital energy that perhaps amazes himself. His ability to capture light has more pictorial than sculptural comparisons.
The material is moulded in his hands with a lightness that takes us back to the purest lines of artists of the past who made formal elegance a banner; and at the same time, his ability to capture light makes him very modern and up-to-date and clothes his works – be they ‘ensembles’, angels of subtle transparency, or ‘glass caves’, ancestral boulders skilfully twisted by his hands, or ‘light constructions’, such as the superb Arsenal Bridge – with a skilfully evocative refraction. Despite being struck down by a serious illness at the end of the 1990s, Luciano Vistosi never interrupted his artistic activity, continuing to realise his sublime and delicate flashes of light in his studio-atelier in Murano, with strength and generous character, until the last days of his life.
He died in Venice on 14 May 2010.