Ace of Vase: Hugh Findletar’s Florid Obsession with a Dying Craft

hugh_color_TBHUGH FINDLETAR is in love with glassware. “You must realize that glass is forever,” says the Milan-based photographer. “Metal will corrode. Rocks re-form. But glass will always remain. If you show love when making glass sculptures, that love will never die.” And most lovable of all are the face-shaped vases of Oscar Zanetti, the finest glass master of Murano, the Venetian island known for its glass-making history.

“I wanted to create my own compositions, and do everything myself,” Findletar recently told us. His “Flower Heads” series took seven years to produce (getting to Zanetti was no small feat). The finished body of work presents a curious assortment of bulbous noses and puckered lips, meta-surrealist portraits festooned with Disney Technicolor plant life. The effect is as unsettling as it is comical. “When you walk into the room and feel the presence of the vases,” says Findletar of the 70–90 lb containers, “they just take over.”

The “Flower Heads” photographs, printed at 43.3 x43.3cm on opaque paper, monumentalize an idiosyncratic craft that “nobody in the world” is doing right now. Original Murano glassware is scarce, combining crushed rubies and 24-karat gold and silver to articulate the features – Byzantine renditions of Groucho Marx caricatures. Oxidized glass lends a matte quality to the surface in some areas; the smoky effect is vibrant and unsettling.

If it’s haunting, it’s in no small part due to the depths of the talent involved: last year Oscar Zanetti was voted as the best glassblower in the world; his six-person team works four to five hours at a time in front of a furnace that reaches over 800 degrees Celsius, with little or no protective gear. As Zanetti – or “Master Oz,” as Hugh calls him – sits locked in silence at the center of his craft, his team moves around him intuitively, as a hand moves to feed the mouth.

As dying breed of craftsmen immersed in the raw materials of the earth, Zanetti’s mythos is the perfect object for Findletar’s fixation on nature and romance.

www.zanettimurano.com

Bildschirmfoto 2013-02-08 um 15.51.59

Bildschirmfoto 2013-02-08 um 15.52.36

Bildschirmfoto 2013-02-08 um 15.53.04

 

Deeper

  • 032c Cosmic Workshop Collection

    032c Cosmic Workshop Belt

    €170
    Buy Now
  • 032c Cosmic Workshop Collection

    032c COSMIC WORKSHOP "Maria" Longsleeve Grey

    €90
    Buy Now
  • Life Exists: Theaster Gates’ Black Image Corporation

    Theaster Gates' “The Black Image Corporation” presents photographs from the holdings of Chicago’s Johnson Publishing Company, a sprawling archive that shaped “the aesthetic and cultural languages of contemporary African American identity.” Gates approached the project as a celebration and activation of the black image in Milan through photographs of women photographed by Moneta Sleet Jr. and Isaac Sutton – of black entrepreneurship and legacy-making. “Life exists” in the Johnson archive, he says, just as it exists and should be honored in other places of black creativity.More
  • FRIDA ESCOBEDO: The Era of the Starchitect is Over

    Rising Mexican architect Frida Escobedo is relentlessly inquisitive, eschewing stylistic constants in favour of an overriding preoccupation with shifting dynamics. Personal curiosity is the driving force behind her practice, which makes he an outlier in a profession dominated by extroverted personalities keen on making bold assertions. "I think it really is a generational shift," Escobedo says. "The idea of the starchitect making grand gestures with huge commissions is over."More
  • “I live a hope despite my knowing better”: James Baldwin in Conversation With Fritz J. Raddatz (1978)

    Born in Berlin in 1931, editor and writer Fritz J. Raddatz relied on food delivered by African American GIs after the death of his parents. To Baldwin he was an “anti-Nazi German who has the scars to prove it.” Debating his return to the USA after 25 years, Baldwin explores the political climate in America at the end of the 1970s in a conversation at home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence.More
  • House as Archive: James Baldwin’s Provençal Home

    For her new book, Magdalena J. Zaborowska visited the house Baldwin occupied from 1971 to 1987 “to expand his biography and explore the politics and poetics of blackness, queerness, and domesticity”. Here, she narrates her early journeys to Baldwin’s home and proposes a salve for its recent loss: a virtual presentation of Baldwin’s home and effects.More
  • Where are the real investments? Theaster Gates on James Baldwin

    The Chicago-based artist talks to Victoria Camblin about materializing the past, the house as museum, and preserving black legacies. Social and artistic engagement, Gates suggests, may allow the contents and spirit of Baldwin’s home, and others like it, to settle in lived experience.More