Messums Yorkshire is delighted to welcome the internationally acclaimed, pioneering glass artist Dante Marioni to its James Street gallery, with a presentation of twelve new and iconic works. This show will run alongside an exhibition of abstract drawings by Northumberland artist Charles Poulsen, both exhibitions demonstrate Messums commitment to showcasing the best of contemporary art and craft to art lovers and collectors in the north of England.
Marioni’s signature style has been described as the purest of classical forms executed in glass by an American glassblower. His amphoras, vases, and ewers draw inspiration from Greek and Etruscan prototypes. As the world’s leading reticello glass artist – an Italian technique of trapping bubbles of air within a lattice pattern – this exhibition presents some of the most desirable objects ever made in glass.
The son of American studio glass pioneer Paul Marioni, Dante was raised in a family of artists that also includes two well-known uncles, painter Joseph Marioni and conceptual artist Tom Marioni. Dante first held a blowpipe at the age of nine. By the time he was 15, he was working after school at one of the first cooperative hotshops and showrooms, The Glass Eye, in Seattle Washington. Although he loved glassblowing, making production studio glass felt limiting.
“The prevailing aesthetic [in American studio glass in the 1970s] was loose and free-form” he observed, “I personally had no interest in that.” Around the same time, he met up with Benjamin Moore, another studio glass pioneer, and watched Moore make a perfectly symmetrical glass form inspired by Venetian glass. It had a dramatic and lasting effect on Marioni, who had not previously seen this type of glassblowing.
Moore soon became a great mentor and friend. “I worked with Benny any chance I got and still use his studio to this day to make some of my really large pieces,” Dante says. He also studied with other well-known studio glass pioneers, such as Fritz Dreisbach and Richard Marquis, who is widely recognised for his unique interpretations of Venetian decorative techniques. In 1983, Moore introduced Dante to Lino Tagliapietra, the legendary maestro who travelled from Murano to teach young American glassblowers at the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington state. “I took classes with Lino throughout the 1990s, and because of him, I received a very classical education in glassblowing. I never missed an opportunity to be around him.
After two decades of experimentation, Dante now creates a diverse range of tall, iconic forms with surface treatments such as murrine (mosaic) and reticello (air bubbles within a net pattern) in an ever-changing array of vibrant colours.
His work is in public collections worldwide including the V&A, London; New Zealand National Museum, Auckland; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; National Museum of Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden; Japanese National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan; American Museum of Art and Design, New York, The White House collection, Washington.