On the small island of Murano, near the inspiring Venice, talented artisans have been producing the world's oldest and most magnificent crystal for centuries. These works have aroused the interest of great artists throughout history. In today's art world, there are two crystal artists that are especially noteworthy because their imagination and reputation precede them. We are talking about Giuliano Ballarin and Massimo Micheluzzi, virtuous artisans whose pieces can be found in some of the world’s most renowned museums.
Giuliano Ballarin was born in 1942 in Merano, northern Italy. He comes from an illustrious family dedicated to the noble art of glassmaking since the 15th century. At an early age—thanks to his precocious powers of observation and artistic sensibility—Ballarin learned with ease the ancient craft of making Murano glass from master craftsmen like Albino Carrara, Francesco Martinuzzi, and Carlo Tosi. In 1973, he opened his first oven-workshop, where he developed his talent, creating pieces of high artistic beauty whose precious and invaluable finishes are admired in select exhibitions in different latitudes. Alongside his son Robert, he established his firm 'Vetreria Artistica Ballarin' in 1989, in Venice. Since they have been producing the most diverse objects such as lamps, cups, dishes, bottles, candlesticks, vases, and bowls, always using the traditional techniques of Murano. Over the past year, Juliano Ballarin was awarded the Prix de Cristal in Venice by Italy’s Institute of Sciences and Arts, in recognition of his exceptional skills and—in particular—for his extraordinary ability as an artisan in the creation of the challenging filigree known as 'watermark.'
This 58 years old Venetian studied art history at the Venetian University of Ca 'Foscari. Curiously, his first contact with glass was not related to its manufacture; his job was to photograph crystal pieces. In the decade of 1970, the small family firm 'Venini' in Murano, commissioned him to create a catalog of images, and he just fell in love with the virtues of Murano glass. Shortly after that, he began to take his first steps in glass design and craftsmanship under the teachings of Master Andrea Zilio. Maximo's work is mainly inspired by the eternal beauty of his native Venice. His glasses and vases evoke the autumn atmosphere of the city by the lagoon. The gray in his works remind us of the hazy Venetian sky before spring. Other times, his pieces shine with the silvery sheen of the waters flowing serenely along the canals. When asked about some of his works in the permanent collections of the Musée Sars Poteries in France, or at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, among other institutions, Micheluzzi says, "I just wanted to use a static material to convey a sense of movement, like a painting by Canaletto". ■
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