Fulvio Bianconi

Born in Padua in 1915, Fulvio Bianconi initially rose to prominence as an illustrator, graphic designer and caricaturist working for Italy’s top companies during the 1930s. Designing for big names like Fiat, Pathé and Pirelli, Bianconi employed his passion for drawing as the creative mind behind one of Italy’s most prestigious publishing houses, Garzanti for over 30 years. However, it is perhaps his post-war collaboration with Paolo Venini and experimentation with glass which best defines his legacy as an artist.

On a business trip to Murano in 1947, Bianconi met with Paolo Venini who immediately recognized his talent and offered him a position as artistic director, a post which had recently been vacated by the celebrated architect Carlo Scarpa. Engaged on a free-lance basis, Bianconi’s arrangement with Venini was somewhat unusual but seemed to suit his idiosyncratic personality and artistic inclinations.

From the very beginning, Bianconi’s approach at Venini was entirely that of a fine artist, drawing inspiration from modern art, fashion and graphic design. As a cartoonist and caricaturist he was also able to re-envision cultural themes from Italy’s past and express them in a fresh, contemporary way. All of this was in fact encouraged by Venini, who seemed to have an innate understanding of Bianconi’s frenetic style and unique abilities.

From 1947 to 1950, Bianconi designed numerous series of sculptural objects and vessels including the Commedia dell’Art figures, Fazoletto (handkerchief) vases, Pezzati (patchwork) and con Macchie (stained) vessels, all of which have all now become icons of post-war Italian design. Sometimes surreal, often abstract, these series captured the spirit of the times and expressed the essence of La Dolce Vita and the exuberance of post-war Italy. While Murano had been demonstrating an awareness of modern art since the early part of the century, it is only with Bianconi that it found itself on equal footing.

Bianconi designed unique, modern art objects on a human-scale and for this, Murano glass was the perfect vehicle. From this point of view, one could say that Bianconi was instrumental in the liberation of Murano glass from its own cultural and historical definitions.

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