As millions of tourists flock to Italy each year to discover the heart of the Renaissance art world and the magnificent eras surrounding it, so do the passionate craftspeople and artists who are seeking the inspiration to heighten their creativity and refine their techniques.Rooted in the cultural legacy of generations of painters, sculptors and glassmakers and flowing through the canals which form the network of the magical city, Venetian art is one of the most thriving studies as masters and amateurs pour their hearts and hands into one of the most revered art forms dominating the creative market today.
As one of the oldest and most revered traditions in Venice, Murano glassmaking itself is luring a great tide of visitors and art enthusiasts, part of a lasting legacy in the island city where culture connoisseurs make their pilgrimage. The grand promenades lined with galleries holding the exquisite works of Murano glass in particular have spurred on the imaginations of not only investors and art collectors but aspiring apprentices who are seeking a lifelong passion. Here is where Venice becomes a beacon of art tourism , hailed as one of the world’s great capitals of art, igniting the imaginations of both artists and entertainers. Beyond its canals, art-themed excursions sail along the glistening azure waters of the world’s most famous seas while stopping by renowned ports and partaking in fairs and festivals celebrating the local cultural heritage. Undeniably, the scope of Italy’s magnificent artistic history is unparalleled, making it one of the world’s leaders in art tourism.
What kind of integral role does Murano glassmaking play in this? Perhaps the answer lies in its historical legacy, originating from Asian and Islamic influences from as far back as the 7th century and perfected to become a dominant form on the market for centuries among traders, with the Murano glassmakers enjoying an elevated status in society allowing them to transcend class confines and celebrate a higher quality of life. Later, with the increase of globalization in the booming 1950’s and 60’s, Murano glass became produced on a massive basis for export and local tourism with vibrant, elegant creations of art, figurines, chandeliers, and other sculptures, rendering its eternal stake in the art world complete.
Even with several leading Murano glass traders distributing worldwide, passionate collectors will travel to the region itself to examine the beautifully-crafted ware, scrutinizing each fine detail before purchasing for their own trade or personal pleasure. Yet Murano is not only famed for its leading galleries like the Museo del Vetro and art cafes which draw in admiring gazers – but as home to one of the most tactile and intricate art forms, its hold a very special performative element. Art lovers and casual wanderers alike revel in watching a glassmaker at their craft, and the local factories – most famously the Vecchia Murano Glass Factory – and art studios are prime destinations of fascination with eager observers and art students watching as this magnificent art form takes shape from concept to creation.
Taking on an almost festive flair, frequent public demonstrations of glassmaking take place throughout the “Glass Island” as it is lovingly known, and the growing number of walking tours with experienced, entertaining guides make it a delightful and enthralling endeavor for increasing amounts of tourists. For the solitary at heart, visitors can also easily navigate their journey at their own pace if they so wish, exploring the collections of crystalline, enameled, gilded gold, multi-colored and milk glass.
In a city which celebrates an endless love affair with the artistry of beautiful glass and the ritualistic nature of its making, there are fewer places in the world where a traveler can become awe-inspired by witnessing a sublime craft which is passed from generation to generation, from master to apprentice. Remaining true to its heritage, yet continually evolving, innovating, and recreating itself as new styles and methods are experimented, Murano is undoubtedly one of the most creative regions in the Mediterranean and the rest of the world. It is a lifestyle and an ethos which merges the most sophisticated form of artistic consciousness and practice, and it harbors some of the finest artists in the contemporary world today. More than a tradition, it is a legacy which continues to enthrall and entice the artist and viewer alike.
- Melissa Cromwell for MuranoNet