Peggy Guggenheim, Egidio Costantini and the glass of Murano

Murano glass in the Guggenheim collection

Peggy Guggenheim loved contemporary art, she considered ‘the art of her century’ something to be protected and promoted. In factThe Art of This Century was also the name given to one of her galleries, the one designed by Frederick Kiesler and opened in 1942 in New York.

Peggy Guggenheim’s collection in Venice includes many artists working in a variety of techniques, seemingly without one style or artistic movement predominating over another, and this happened for a variety of reasons: some particular moments in her life, like friendships; her personal choice or simply for personal reasons, such as a marriage. It’s quite famous the fact that she get married with Max Ernst.

Thanks to this intersection of events, encounters, and choices, the Peggy Guggenheim collection in Venice is a fascinating , extremely complex collection, because it covers a period of time of almost seventy years during the Twentieth century . It was a time in which the world changed profoundly, going through two world wars and various crises. Peggy Guggenheim’s collection includes artists from three different continents, who are often very different from each other, or whose style changed over the years.

Some of these artists dedicated themselves to experimenting with new techniques or materials and the Peggy Guggenheim museum presents their evolution, an example can be the works of Pablo Picasso or Max Ernst on display.

Egidio Costantini with Pablo Picasso – Peggy Guggenheim in her palace in Venice

Who was Egidio Costantini?

Perhaps it is easier to say who Egidio Costantini was not. He was not a master glassmaker, yet he knew how to promote Murano glass like few others and how to make in Murano glass the works of the great artists of the 20th century.

His family was half Tuscan, half native of Venice and he was born in Puglia. He had studied botany and worked in a bank until he met the glassworks, in Murano, where he began working as an agent.

Fascinated by Murano glass, he thought of having the designs and works of the living masters made in glass. Today we take for granted that the glass sculptures of artists have the same value as works made with other mediums, some artists are able to work with glass, others work in close contact with the glass masters, but at that time it was not so and Egidio Costantini established lasting relationships with artists such as Pablo Picasso. He was able to make with glass art pieces taken from drawings of Le Corbusier, Oskar Kokoschka, Marc Chagall and many others.

Peggy helped him in 1961, when his gallery, which was also an artistic movement, La Fucina degli angeli found itself in a time of economic crisis, he exhibited his works in his Venetian palace and then took them to New York. The works were then also exhibited at the Palazzo Ducale gaining great success. In Venice his work in Murano glass were also admired at Ca’ Pesaro.

The poetic name of his gallery (The Forge of angels, La Fucina degli angeli) was chosen by Jean Cocteau and artists such as Marc Chagall and Hans Hartung joined the movement. Even Jean Arp had one of his works made in glass by Egidio Costantini, as did Lucio Fontana. The list of artists produced by Egidio Costantini’s Fucina degli Angeli is really long, but also his success was achieved at an international level, until he moved the production to the mainland in 1989.

Egidio Costantini continued his work until the nineties of the twentieth century, when he created works more related to his personal reflections.

He died in 2007 in Venice. They called him the master of the glassmasters.

In Peggy’s Venetian home are now on display the small twenty-three iridescent blue sculptures in glass that Egidio Costantini created from Picasso’s drawings . The artifacts stand out against the white palace Cà Corner Palace della Cà Granda and the green of the Grand Canal in the room dedicated to Pegeen Vail.

Follow or contact me for a guided tour to the Peggy Guggenheim collection or Murano glass factories or art studios.

Fiorella Pagotto

The link if you are interested to visit The Peggy Guggenheim Collection

The link if you are interested to visit art glass studios in Murano:Murano art & glass

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