THE FIRST STEPS TOWARDS THE “VETRERIA SEGUSO ARCHIMEDE“
Barely eleven years old, he approaches the artistic workmanship of the glass and forms his extraordinary manual skill by reproducing Eighteenth century glass pieces. Extremely skilled in lampworking and furnace work, at the age of twenty he becomes an outstanding master, standing out also in the newly developed workmanship of heavy glass. He becomes a “first rate Maestro”, so much so that, from that moment, he was the “reference person” in the furnace. He hires for work in the family’s factory, first Vittorio Zecchin and then Flavio Poli as designers. He develops his innate abilities in solid sculpture, creating pieces which are presented at the prewar Venice Biennale. We can recall the animals, the full-relief figure of boxer “Primo Carnera” from 1934, the portrait of the future wife from 1937 and the thick “bullicante submerged glass pieces” or “gold lavished pieces”, the “corroded” or “iridescent” pieces like “The Zodiac” from 1935.
In 1946, Archimede attains complete artistic independence founding his own workshop, the “Vetreria Seguso Archimede”.
It is during this period that he “conquers” Italy with his chandeliers during the postwar reconstruction, where the market demand is so high for them. With Alberto Sciolari, who is responsible for their distribution, they create a lasting partnership until Alberto’s premature departure. He adorns cinemas, theatres, hotels, public offices, churches with illuminating bodies. He becomes a leading figure in the world of Murano and international glass making art, sensitive to trends and a visionary of taste. He creates the “cordonati” (ribbed effect), the “ad anelli” (in rings), 1948; the “aghiformi” (needle-shaped), the “opaque gold”, the “nude in black and iridescent crystal” (1949).
From the fifties to the nineties: the era of genius
The Fifties are for Archimede years of research and innovation in techniques of glass working such as, for example, the ‘merletti” or laces (1952) and the “feathers” (1956); of the study of color, an important and recurring element in his work, such as the “gold coral” , the “embroidered ribbon”, the “zig zag”, the “losanghe”, the “amber green spots”, the “gold ivories”, the “submerged pieces”, the “alabasters”.
In 1952, with Giuseppe Santomaso, Archimede Seguso elaborates a series of door handles in vivid colors for telephone boxes, prelude to the work of the great panel studied and constructed for the Stadio del Ghiaccio (Olympic Ice Stadium) in Cortina d’Ampezzo for the 1956 Winter Olympics.
Even during the Sixties, he turns out some very interesting glass pieces, which generate unanimous consensus, today point of contention among collectors. Among these, we should mention the “continuous threads” of 1962, the “Aleanti” of 1964, the “superimposed colors and stripes” of 1966, the “Starry filigree” and the “Onion” (in threads) of 1968. The chandeliers composed of elements belong to this period. The “Optical” are from 1972. He participates in several Biennale in Venice, Triennale in Milan and in many other exhibits.
Nevertheless, Archimede does not abandon his long-standing love for solid sculpture: he creates pieces such as “Head of Sleeping Woman” (1971), related to the high-relief “Sleeping Woman Seated on a Stool” from 1951, “The Sprout” and “Double Eclipse” (1986), “Head of Child” (1972) and “Head of Woman with Hair in the Wind”.
In 1982, he participates in the exhibit of the 1000 year celebration of glass art in Venice at the Palazzo Grassi and at the Correr Museum with more sculptures and with the laying Christ, where even the empty spaces describe the form. Such work is kept at the Museum of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice and in the Santo Stefano Church, also in Venice, it is possible to find a marvelous Nativity created in 1983.
Save Venice honors Archimede by bestowing him with a personal exhibit in New York, “The Master of Masters” at Tiffany & Co. in 1989, to celebrate his 80th birthday.
In 1990, another personal exhibit was presented at the Otaru Museum in Japan and in 1991, in Venice, the Municipality of Venice holds “I Vetri di Archimede Seguso”, the only time where the works of a living artist are exhibited at the Palazzo Ducale. The show is unimaginably successful and the show’s closing is extended not once but twice. Sensitive to contingent facts, he creates “My Europe” (1992), an obelisk made of blown blue glass over two meters high which is exhibited in Luxemburg and in Liege.
More recently, there are the pieces from the “Rotture” cycle (1994-1995), where the solid mass shatters and separates, but it also re-forms into new shapes. Together with the Arcameda Dorata, the animals of Archimede’s arc, at Ca’ dei Carraresi in Treviso, exhibits the pieces of the Venice Biennale, not presented in Venice at Ca’ Pesaro for the one hundredth anniversary of the Biennale in 1995.
During his last years, inspiration gains strength and cause from the research of the use of color, such as in the vases “Riflessi e Intarsi/Reflections and Inlay” (1990), the “Carneval” (1987/1989), the series of “vases with mesh motif” (1989), the “Primavera stellate/Starry Spring” (1992), the “Intrico vases” (1994) with their articulate veining weave and the “Verde Serenella 18” (1996). In the “Arcamede dorata” (1995), previously mentioned, the skill of youth is evident, a time when he was called the Maestro of Animals, and in the series of “La Fenice vases” (1996), each one different from the other in shape and color, the descriptive capacity of the tragic event of the fire of the Venetian theatre can be seen, which he experienced at a distance of 10 meters from the blaze with the terror that the fire could reach his home.