The Maestro Takes a Bow: Lino Tagliapietra Announces Retirement

Not many people can say they began working at the age of 11. Fewer still that they continued until they were 87! Lino Tagliapietra may be the only person who can say they did both and devoted every day in-between to the pursuit of what he loves most. For Lino, that was glassblowing.

Lino Tagliapietra

Without a doubt, Lino has become a true master of his profession, becoming the world’s most renowned glassmaker over the course of his 76-year career. With hundreds of collaborations under his belt, thousands of artworks to his name, and countless hours logged before the furnace, Lino now announces his retirement.

“Today, because of my love and respect for glass, which has given me so much and that I hope I have reciprocated, I feel I must take what I think will be the hardest and most important decision of my life,” Lino announced in a statement earlier this month. “I have decided to retire from manual work and from the furnace that during this long and wonderful time has gifted me with immense satisfaction, freedom of expression, incredible encounters, and ultimately pure passion for the craft.”

 

Born in 1934 on the island of Murano, Italy, where the lore of glassblowing has been passed from maestro to apprentice for centuries, Lino Tagliapietra joined the trade at just 11 years old. This was the catalyst for his life-long journey with glass. As an apprentice, Lino showed an innate talent that was quickly recognized. He earned the illustrious title of ‘Maestro’ just ten years later. ‘Maestro’ is a term only conferred on Italian glassmakers who have reached the highest level of proficiency with the material. Lino established himself working with several of Murano’s most important glass factories throughout his early career, including Venini & Co. and Effetre.

Lino helped influence the trajectory of American glassblowing, which was still in its infancy, when he met Dale Chihuly in Murano in the late 1960s. The two artists began a cross-continental partnership, trading techniques from their respective communities—in some cases very closely guarded secrets from the Murano community. This friendship also led to Lino’s lengthy career in educating the next generation of glassmakers. He first visited Seattle, Wash., to teach at nearby Pilchuck Glass School in 1979, and today continues to split his time between Seattle and Murano.

Lino has had a long-standing and fruitful relationship with The Corning Museum of Glass since 1984 when his work first entered the collection. He was also instrumental in the early planning of The Studio, which opened in 1996. He was a “gracious mentor,” as described by Amy Schwartz, director of The Studio, which teaches hundreds of students each year.

Lino demonstrating in The Studio in 2012.

“An inspiring teacher, an artist soul, and a dear friend, Lino has crafted a life and legacy worth celebrating. We are endlessly grateful to Lino for his support of The Studio over the years, and for passionately developing future generations of glass artists. He has generously shared his knowledge gained from seven decades spent working with glass, and students and fellow artists alike look to him as the pinnacle of the field. We thank Lino for his many contributions, and we wish him a very happy retirement.”

Amy Schwartz, director of The Studio

Also in 1996, Lino was awarded the Museum’s prestigious 11th Rakow Commission for his work Hopi, and in recognition of his superior artistic talent and contribution to the language of glass. Hopi consists of two blown glass vessels, one tall and one short, and is inspired by the indigenous art of the American Southwest. Lino believes that Native American art has made an important and unique contribution to American culture. Hopi’s bold and contrasting colors, broad-shouldered forms, and intricate surface patterns recall the Native American ceramics, basketry, and textiles that Tagliapietra admires.

In 1998, Lino spent two weeks with Steuben in a landmark “artist-in-residence” program, producing his own designs using Steuben crystal. More than 60 one-of-a-kind pieces were produced. The work was exhibited in Steuben’s New York City showroom under the banner Clearly Lino Tagliapietra: Masterworks in Steuben Crystal.

More recently, Lino was the first Guest Artist when the Museum opened the Amphitheater Hot Shop and Contemporary Art + Design Galleries in 2015. The Museum’s collection features robust examples of his artistry, including the dynamic, large-scale installation Endeavor in which 18 exquisitely blown and carved vessels seem to float in the air like Venetian gondolas in the sky.

Lino demonstrating in the Amphitheater Hot Shop in 2015.

“Few people have expanded the language of blown glass the way Lino has. Fusing mind, body, and material, he is able to coax new expressions out of glass, demonstrating in every gather and reversed-axis, the possibilities of form, color, and refinement. His is humanist work, reminding us of the heights of human achievement and an inspiring pursuit of excellence, whatever the medium. His work is truly unparalleled. We are thrilled to have his work in the collection and count him as a dear friend to the Museum and to the material.”

Susie J. Silbert, curator of postwar and contemporary glass

The Corning Museum of Glass congratulates Maestro Lino Tagliapietra on his retirement from a career filled with creativity, innovation, passion, and distinction. Lino leaves behind a legacy that will last lifetimes.

Lino Tagliapietra

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