At the age of seventy-five, Murano-born Lino Tagliapietra is an admired and respected figure throughout the world glass community, nowhere more so than in the USA, which has become a second home to him. A retrospective exhibition of his work is currently touring the US, charting in detail his rise from craftsman to celebrated artist, from a maestro vetraio in a team of glassmakers to a holder of workshops and teaching posts around the globe. Two particularly significant milestones marked this long and arduous path: his departure from Venice for the first time, in 1979, to give a master class in glassblowing at the furnace at the Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington, and his workshop collaboration in 1983 with the Dutch designer Andries Dirk Copier, which opened his eyes to the potential of glass as a fine art medium. In 1988 he finally stopped working for the glass industry in Murano and set up on his own.
Tagliapietra developed his personal style slowly. His encounter with US studio glass had taught him to use traditional Venetian decoration techniques freely, without regard to convention. During his long career as a professional glassmaker he had naturally studied the items on show in the Museo Vetrario in Murano, but foreign travel gave him the opportunity of expanding his knowledge of the history of glass. This is reflected in the shapes of the vases, bowls and plates he began making as an independent artist, producing them in small editions with evocative names often recalling those of post-war Muranese wares - for example, Faraonici, Etrusco, Saturno, Butterfly, Spider, Angel Tears, River-Stone and Batman in the 1990s, and Stromboli, Mandara, Silea and Medusa since 2000. Such associative titles derive from the patterns spread over the individual items, either bold or fine-meshed like fabric and consisting of colored undulating lines, arcs, spirals, patches and so forth. By contrast, the shapes are almost exclusively self-contained. The vases are notable for small bases and high, broad shoulders, apparently inspired by Far Eastern ceramics. At the 1998 Venezia Aperto Vetro exhibition Tagliapietra created a captivating installation in the Doge's Palace consisting of boats in every conceivable technique and color that evoked gondolas on the Grand Canal. He has since produced countless variations on this theme.
Lino Tagliapietra is the honored recipient of the prestigious Rakow Commission granted in 1996 by the Corning Museum of Glass, as well as The Glass Art Society Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2004 Visionary Award from the Museum of Arts & Design in New York. His work has been exhibited throughout Europe, Asia and North America and is installed in numerous prominent public collections including Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York; Danish Royal Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark; The Jewish Museum in San Francisco, California; Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, New York; Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, France and Museo del Vidrio in Monterrey, Mexico.