“There is every reason this year to have a world view,” says Irvin Lippman, the Boca Raton Museum of Art’s Executive Director, as South Florida boldly ushers in the New Year with the national premiere of Glasstress 2021 Boca Raton. “Three years in the making, with 2020 being such a challenging year to coordinate an international exhibition of this size and scope, the effort serves as an important reassurance that art is an essential and enduring part of humanity. This is also a tribute to the resilience of Venice’s surviving the floods and continuing to make art through the pandemic.”
After the acclaimed Glasstress exhibition held in 2017 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, which featured artists such as Cornelia Parker and Joana Vasconcelos, Fondazione Berengo is delighted to be partnering once again with the institution to exhibit the best of contemporary art made with glass. Handpicked by Kathleen Goncharov, the Museum’s Senior Curator who traveled to Italy in 2019 this exhibition of new projects showcases over thirty international artists who have created sculptures in glass in collaboration with the master glass artisans at Berengo Studio on the island of Murano in the Venetian lagoon. Several of the artworks have never been exhibited outside of Europe before and the Fondazione is immensely proud to be orchestrating their American debut in collaboration with the team in Boca Raton.
The thirty-three artists included in the show present an extensive array of creative talent with artworks which address a range of pressing present-day concerns: human rights, climate change, racial justice, gender issues, and politics. World-renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei sits beside McCarthy Genius Grant recipient Joyce J. Scott and Feminist icon Renate Bertlmann. Golden Lion Award Winners from Venice’s prestigious Biennale of Art abound, with works from American artist Jimmie Durham, German artist Thomas Schütte, and Italian artist Monica Bonvicini. Indeed many of the artists featured in the exhibition have – at one point or another – represented their countries at the International Venice Biennale, such as French artist Laure Prouvost who collaborated with Berengo Studio back in 2019 to immerse the French pavilion in a vast sculptural installation called – appropriately – Deep See Blue Surrounding You.
At Boca Raton visitors will find themselves immersed in a different setting, with American artist Fred Wilson’s Sala Longhi set to open the show. Wilson created this series at Berengo Studio after the Biennale exhibited his work about the neglected Black residents of Venice from the Renaissance. This installation features an ornate white chandelier with 29 glass panels that mirror 18th-century Venetian artist Pietro Longhi’s paintings. Instead of canvases, Wilson shows the viewer only the whites of the eyes of his Black subjects through cutouts in black reflective glass.
This show also unveils the Museum’s new acquisition for its collection, created in Berengo Studio – Glass Big Brother, a sculpture by Song Dong, one of China’s most prominent contemporary artists. “Certainly, this chandelier sculpture by Song Dong with its glass-blown surveillance cameras, is both poetic and poignant,” says Irvin Lippman. “It was commissioned by the Museum to hang in our new Wolgin Education Center front windows that face pedestrians walking across Mizner Park.” The large-scale ceiling installation is 11 feet long and reaches all the way to the floor. Thirty surveillance cameras are ensconced from top to bottom, looking out at all directions around the chandelier.
The team at the Boca Raton Museum of Art have worked tirelessly to bring this new edition of Glasstress to life. Throughout this past year the importance of art as an essential extending element of our lives has been made evermore evident by the restrictions we face daily. Art, however one can access it, presents an escape, a means of transportation in a time where travel feels impossible. Fondazione Berengo hopes with this latest edition of its acclaimed exhibition to bring some respite from a world in lockdown, presenting a piece of Murano in Florida, a memory of artworks made in the lagoon which still carry the spirit of ancient tradition however contemporary they may at first appear.
Glasstress Boca Raton 2021 runs from January 27 through to September 5, 2021 and is accessible both online and off with a range of online initiatives for virtual viewing in place.