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Old 01-29-2018, 12:58 PM
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Recent Auction Results

I learned about this auction of Italian Glass from a link in a FB discussion and followed it until they posted results. Click the link below to see what sold and the final sales prices. While I'm glad glass is being recognized, on the other hand I'm shocked at the values people are paying for some pretty unremarkable factory-made glass. Clearly the title "Murano Glass" still gets collectors salivating (and opening their wallets).

https://www.wright20.com/auctions/20...-italian-glass
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Old 01-29-2018, 11:17 PM
Isaac Swanson Isaac Swanson is offline
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There’s no accounting for taste. On the other hand most of those don’t seem like they fall in the “unremarkable” category.
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Old 01-30-2018, 02:52 AM
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The market for that glass (especially stuff from the 40s and 50s) started to firm up in the mid-80s and has been strengthening ever since then.

I would say that's a pretty remarkable collection overall. You're right, David--a lot of it (not all of it) was designed to be made in unlimited multiples, but you're looking at the best examples of pre- and postwar Venetian factories--all of the great Venini designers, Barovier, A. Seguso. Yoichi Ohira is the odd man out here, whose work was made at least 50 years after most of the other stuff.
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Old 01-31-2018, 09:50 AM
Max Grossman Max Grossman is offline
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You should know those guys, considering Scarpa invented / revived murrini! All the early Venini designers from 1925-1940 are highly desirable. Those prices are no surprise, I wish I could afford em.

Look for my upcoming article / rambling train of thought in GASNews about the early Venini history. If not for them, none of us would be here!
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Old 01-31-2018, 11:16 AM
Eben Horton Eben Horton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Grossman View Post
You should know those guys, considering Scarpa invented / revived murrini! All the early Venini designers from 1925-1940 are highly desirable. Those prices are no surprise, I wish I could afford em.

Look for my upcoming article / rambling train of thought in GASNews about the early Venini history. If not for them, none of us would be here!
Are you sure that if it were not for Vinini, I would not be a glass blower? I disagree. I owe more to Harvey Littleton than anyone else.
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Old 01-31-2018, 12:37 PM
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I agree with Eben. The Toledo workshop was the kickstarter. A debt is also owed to Erwin Eisch, Nick Labino and Harvey Leafgreen.

Italy did not come into play at all until the Fulbright Grants around 1968-9. Venini was indeed important with Richard Marquis going over early. Dale and Jaimey did as well.
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Old 01-31-2018, 03:20 PM
Scott Benefield Scott Benefield is online now
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I guess it depends on how you view that history. Harvey was interested in developing a studio glass movement that echoed the studio ceramics movement of the 50s, where designer/maker roles merged, a distinction that was still preserved in glass factories even on Murano. (You can cite exceptions like Archimede Seguso, but there was still a class system in place--studio owners, factory workers. Ercole Barovier wasn't a glassblower.) Harvey was drawn to people who were getting their hands dirty, like Jean Sala, but he travelled widely and was well aware of the small studio furnaces on Murano.
But, like a true revolutionary, Harvey wasn't really interested in evolutionary development, and the movement he inspired was largely ignorant of the long history of glass--except for a brief flirtation with Art Nouveau glass--until people (like Marquis, Chihuly, Lipofsky) began to retrieve pieces of it through direct contact with other glass traditions in the 70s. Cue Lino's entrance as a Pilchuck instructor in 1980 at Ben Moore's invitation, which could be looked at as the Studio Glass movement's second act.
I don't suppose Eben would be doing much beyond a sculptural blob without that.
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Old 01-31-2018, 03:46 PM
Eben Horton Eben Horton is offline
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I’d still be here though.
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Old 01-31-2018, 03:56 PM
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you might be. The institutional attitude towards individuals getting involved with glass in 1970 was toxic if they weren't based in the schools. It was attitudinally toxic as Shops Like Orient and Flume, John Lewis, or Lundberg began to explore the cash opportunities. Renaissance Fairs all over California provided a ready outlet for a very rare medium almost entirely in an Art Nouveau style, with the exception of John Lewis.

When Frank Kulaszewicz came out with his book on Glass, the Schools attacked as Dangerous. Frank at that time was the only one who was melting lead glass regularly. Frank actually had recipes. Essentially, Frank was out of the favored school loop out of Madison. Not a good place to be. Another person who was not in that Loop interestingly was Mark Peiser.
Bringing Lino in was after my time at Pilchuck by a number of years but it did bring about a change in the way glass in America was being made. It also brought Italian Style to America, something I always thought to be unfortunate. It's all stuck in a blender now.
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Old 01-31-2018, 04:13 PM
Eben Horton Eben Horton is offline
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If Lino had not come, Someone else would have came. What if it was A Swede? Or a czech? Sure...I owe some of my tricks to Lino, who taught glass blower X, who taught me, or Glass Blower X who taught glassblower y, who taught me..

Id also think that I owe the most to Dale who turned the dog and pony show into a full blown 4 ring circus and put what we do into everyone's scope of awareness.

Dale gets a ton more credit than anyone else for that.
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Old 01-31-2018, 04:43 PM
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No doubt about it, Dale was influential for a lot of developments in the studio glass movement--including encouraging teamwork in glassblowing, which he brought back from his 1968 residency at Venini, which ran counter to prevailing practice at the time. Dale might not have been the glassblower that Jamie was after his experiences on Murano, but he knew a good idea when he saw one and, with Pilchuck, he had a platform that could popularize it.

And I don't think Lino's influence was as random as Eben thinks--the Swedes (Wilke Adolfsson, with Ann Warff) had been to Pilchuck in 1978 and Gianni Toso had been brought over by Marvin before that (the Czechs weren't really traveling to America until much later--like the 90s), and things--Venetian glassblowing techniques, lamentable or not--only really started to change with Lino's annual visits to Pilchuck.

One trouble with standing on the shoulders of giants lies in taking them for granted.
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Old 01-31-2018, 04:57 PM
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One trouble with standing on the shoulders of giants lies in taking them for granted.
*******
Amen.
The people who tell me that Dale had no influence on how their careers fared must have had completely failed careers. The reason all of the people here have careers lies in Marketing. Dale was the master marketer. He lit the beacons for getting past the renaissance fairs. Marvin brought Toso in about 1975.

I'll always remember Wendy Rosen's observation to me that in the mornings at the shows, the glassworkers were all out talking to their brokers.
Too bad it wasn't true, but I do recall two glassworkers taking orders for over one million dollars at a single show and the other 800 thousand. I took orders for more than 50K on single orders on more than one occasion.

That was a long time ago.
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Old 01-31-2018, 05:02 PM
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times sure have changed.
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Old 01-31-2018, 08:37 PM
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*******
Amen.
The people who tell me that Dale had no influence on how their careers fared must have had completely failed careers. The reason all of the people here have careers lies in Marketing. Dale was the master marketer. .
Two comments:

On this auction - I don't ascribe a great deal of value to factory-made work. I can appreciate the design of course, but when something that can be made in 2 hours is made in virtually unlimited multiples with the actual maker uncredited, I just don't think it should be worth $20k, much less $135k. I have a lot more respect for the personal work of someone who designed, created and signed the bottom of the work.

As far as history, my road to glass is an anomaly--I didn't go to art school, never worked for anyone in Seattle (or anywhere), didn't spend months at any of the glass schools, etc. So I'm kind of an island as far as direct influences or education. Nevertheless, my education came from experimentation and watching people in San Francisco who learned from people who learned from the second and third generation in San Francisco and Seattle who learned from Harvey and Lino. And an instructive week observing Afro Celotto in Murano many years ago. So while I can't directly attribute my education to any school or person directly, I do credit the openness of other glassmakers and my own experimentation and analysis for my skills. Intrinsic to the beneficial DNA is Dale's contribution as a marketer and elevator of glass in the art world and Lino and friends who came to the US to share. These two helped pave the road for my journey in glass.
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Old 01-31-2018, 09:35 PM
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Here's sorta what I was thinking with that comment regarding Venini - and stop me if I'm wrong.

Prior to Venini in 1921, around the turn of the century, Murano glass was in the middle of a vintage craze - making older, traditional decorative work, in the usual Roman style - and it wasn't really popular. Despite trying to keep the secrets of blown work on the island, the craft managed to spread to the rest of Europe where they took the hot process and used it to make blanks for cut glass. The cut glass was better received at the time, and Murano was facing a crisis.

Enter Venini, who changed the game by inviting architects and designers into the studio to design work. The first visiting artist in their factory was Tyra Lundgren in 1935 (she was an industrial designer and did designs for Moser prior, but it was her sculpture that caught Venini's eye), and of course he had mostly architects like Buzzi and Scarpa as his designers for years. I think that's a pretty drastic change from how things used to be in the 1900s. I of course do wonder, when they say that guys like Martinuzzi or Scarpa invented specific glassblowing techniques like murrini or pugeloso, if they had a blowpipe in their hands.

In my opinion, what Venini / Lalique / Tiffany did to modernize glass and how it was created at the turn of the century was the spark which led to our American movement. I'm of course not downplaying anything that Lino, Harvey or Dale did, or guys like Correia here in LA (who's given me lots of equipment), I was just surprised to learn about how early Venini was breaking down the walls. I wouldn't say the system was totally shattered, there of course was still defined roles / a hierarchy, but I think the act of bringing an outsider / guest designer into a factory was pretty big, not to mention their total break from the decorative aesthetic of the times.

Otherwise maybe we'd still be pressing 1880s designs.

Last edited by Max Grossman; 01-31-2018 at 09:51 PM.
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Old 02-01-2018, 02:52 AM
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I think that's mostly right, Max, but you have to also put Venini into the context of what was happening internationally in decorative arts, in general, and glass in particular. For instance, Edward Hald and Simon Gate (both painters) had been designing very innovative work for Orrefers since 1917--several years before Venini and Cappellini started their company with Vittorio Zecchin (a painter) as their designer. I think what happened was that glass finally joined up with other international modernist movements and, because they could see one another's work regularly at big industrial expos, a well-defined role for industrial design was created within the industry. Around that time Berlage (a Dutch architect) designed for Leerdam; Joself Hoffmann for Loebmeyer.

Understanding context might also help understand the prices that these objects fetch at auction. At the time they were made, these pieces represented the top end of the market for glass and were sold in luxury outlets (like Tiffany's). They were never considered bog standard production. I imagine their present day value--always a squishy subject--would be based on their historical importance and, even though they weren't editioned, their relative scarcity today (also condition), not how difficult they were to make or how much time they took to make. De gustibus and all that, but to dismiss those pieces as simple work strikes me as a bit hubristic.

Mark Peiser, ever the outlier, was the first studio glass aritst to significantly raise prices on his work, followed quickly by Dale, which began the dazzling spiral in prices that ensued in the 80s. Elaborate, time-consuming, unique pieces attributed to a single maker--like you make today, David--simply weren't possible to make back then because they couldn't have been supported by a market (although the factories did make unique pieces for special exhibitions like the Venice Biennale).
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Old 02-01-2018, 07:16 AM
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When I read you all conversing about the equivalent of "Murano Spring" in the 1920's and the names cited and how staid factory glass was until then, I'm kind of surprised that none of you mention Carder and Tiffany who were hard at turning American glass design and acceptance far earlier. They were quite successful as I recall.

I also wonder if the person David describes who can turn out the same pieces hour after hour not being worth anywhere near the kind of money it might pull in doesn't well describe the Boat House enterprise.

Mark at one point had made one of the Wisteria Pieces back around 1977 and he did not want to sell it. Doug Heller was holding the show and he was adamant that there would be no NFS work in the show. At that time, those pieces ran about 600-700 a piece and that was the same price structure on the Blanket cylinders Chihuly was making. Mark put a price on the one that he did not want to sell at $3500 dollars. It was the first that sold and he was absolutely stunned. The story Italo told was that he took Dale to a marketer and he slammed a vase down on the man's desk and said "This is a 200 dollar piece. Teach me to sell it for $20,000. "

I own a big Peiser casting of the telescope lens. I traded a 50 lb bag of Lithium for it. That's the kind of guy Mark is. In general, I'm seeing some stuff here where people were born on third base and think they hit a triple.
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Old 02-07-2018, 09:53 AM
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Or in my case born on third base and think I threw a touchdown.
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Old 02-07-2018, 03:29 PM
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I was taught to blow glass by Mathew Buechner who learned at Steuben. The guys who taught him were probably taught by Carders boys. That’s where I lay my wreath.
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Old 02-07-2018, 05:40 PM
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I know Matt. He wasn't taught by any one from the Carder group. That's simply a fantasy. He was in the right place at the right time as his dad was the president of Corning. Nothing more. Your blowing skills are far more influenced by Italians. I've watched you both work, you just don't seem to know it. . His brother was a better technician. He on the other hand is a far better human being.
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