The Glass Masters: Fulvio Bianconi

The great Italian glass artist Fulvio Bianconi (1915 – 1996) is best known for his colorful vases, bowls, and pitchers that exhibit color fields reminiscent of Paul Klee’s geometric paintings. Born in 1915 in Padua, Italy, Bianconi fostered an early interest in caricature drawing, leading him to seek artistic training at the Istituto Statale d’Arte Carmini. He continued his studies in Venice at the Accademia de Belle Arte, apprenticing at the Murano glass-making facilities by the time he was 16. Throughout his career, Bianconi worked as a graphic designer in tandem with his artistic glasswork, which afforded him financial independence and the freedom to allow his interest in glasswork to blossom.

Fulvio Bianconi (1915-1996)


The first two examples of Bianconi’s glass works are Pezzato vases, so named because of their “patches” coloration. Designed between 1950 and 1951, they were exhibited to great acclaim at the Milan Triennale exhibition in 1951.

Pezzato glass vase, designed by Fulvio Bianconi and manufactured by Venini & Co. H: 22.8 cm.
Pezzato glass vase, designed by Fulvio Bianconi and manufactured by Venini & Co. H: 24 cm.

In designing his Pezzato vases, Bianconi wanted to evoke the visual effect of abstract art, and he succeeded magnificently. His colors and design echo modern abstract paintings such as those of Paul Klee or Ben Nicholson, with some influence from the stained glass windows of gothic cathedrals. To create the color effect, a colorless glass body was first blown and then rolled over panels of colored glass, which sticks to the hot body, producing the patchwork effect. The body is then blown to its final form. The vase was manufactured by the famed Italian glass maker, Venini & Co in different shapes and color combinations.

Another Bianconi masterpiece, also produced by Venini is the Scozzesi vase, which are amongst the rarest of Bianconi models. Only two other examples of these beautiful rainbow-color vases are known today, one of which is on permanent display at the Museum of Modern Art in Ca’ Pesaro in Venice, and the other in a private Swiss collection (recently auctioned in Paris). The rarity of these vases is due the exceptional complexity of making them, which is further complicated by the contrasting pressures of the different glass elements which often caused damage during the cooling process, making the Scozzesi unfit for large-scale production. This example was auctioned by Christie’s London in October 2019.

A rare ‘Scozzese’ vase, model no. 4592, circa 1957. mould-blown fused coloured and lattimo glass canes. Executed by Venini & C., Murano, Italy. 11 7/8 x 7 x 5 ¼ in. (30 x 18 x 13.5 cm.). Auctioned by Christie’s London in October 16, 2019.

Other Works by Fulvio Bianconi

Spicchi vase, model 4316, Venini Italy, 1950. internally decorated transparent glass with red and blue triangular tesserae. 20 × 9 × 21 cm. Photo: Wright, Chicago.
Fasce Verticale vase, model 4409, Venini Italy, 1951, glass with vertical polychrome bands, 9 × 30 cm. Photo: Wright, Chicago.
Bi-Pezzato vase, model 4318, Venini Italy, c. 1950, polychrome patchwork glass 16 × 26 cm. Photo: Wright, Chicago.
Pezzato Americano vase, model 4398, Venini Italy, c. 1955, amber, yellow, black and green glass tesserae, 11 × 11 × 23 cm. Photo: Wright, Chicago.
Pezzame vase, model 4394, Venini Italy, 1950, internally decorated glass, 13 × 27 cm. Photo: Wright, Chicago.
Important Con Macchie vase, model 4324, Venini Italy, 1950, glass with abstract internal decoration and lightly iridized surface, 27 × 15 × 23 cm. Wright, Chicago.

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