Presented by Le Stanze del Vetro and Fondazione Giorgio Cini
Laura de Santillana and Alessandro Diaz de Santillana have chosen glass as their medium, and their work is consciously aligned
with contemporary art practices. This exhibition at the MAK offers the very first insight into the works of the Santillana
siblings ever presented in Austria.
Laura de Santillana (born 1955) and Alessandro Diaz de Santillana (born 1959) epitomize the ideal synthesis of a perfect understanding
for the craft, extensive knowledge of the material, and free artistic formfinding. They are the grandchildren of Paolo Venini,
founder of the Venini glass company, which was established in 1921 on the island of Murano; hence, the siblings were raised
in one of the most significant glassmaker families in Venice. They both worked as designers in the family business. From 1993,
they turned their attention away from functional objects and devoted themselves exclusively to art. Today, the Santillana
siblings rank among the most high-profile proponents of liberal glass art. They both understand glass as an autonomous material
of artistic expression, whichlike other materialscan serve formfinding.
Freestanding, space-consuming sculptures and anthropomorphic forms dominate the presentation of Laura de Santillanas
work in the MAK. A large steel table with a group of abstract glass Buddha heads stands alongside a white bookcase holding
40 books made of glass. Just like a library, here is a synopsis of the numerous colors and surface textures that
the artist developed under identical production conditions in a series over the last 15 years. Also on display are Lauras
voluminous slabs, which have a powerful physicality, suggesting that the enclosed space has the potential to be crushed.
The wall objects by Alessandro Diaz de Santillana shown in the MAK reflect the history of hand blown Venetian plate and window
glass and the effect of ancient, now blind mirrors. Paintings on black mirror glass reduce a subject to diverse
shades of black and gray, conveying the impression that they are part of a larger aesthetic dialog. Alessandros wall
objects enter into a spatial counterpart with Lauras sculptures. A series of videos in the exhibition shows visitors
how the glassworks are made in the glass furnace by the Santillana siblings.
In dialog with the objects of the MAK Permanent Collection Vienna 1900, the works of Laura de Santillana and Alessandro Diaz
de Santillana are given a separate, new meaning. Involuntarily, you cant help but think of the huge influence that the
designs of Viennese modernismand particularly Josef Hoffmannhad on the work of Carlo Scarpa. Between 1932 and
1947, Scarpa designed glassworks for Paolo Venini. The way the Santillanas evolved into autonomous artists has many parallels
with the artistic design of everyday objects in Vienna around 1900. Viewed in this light, the works by the Santillana siblings
resume the positions of Viennese modernism.
Curator Rainald Franz, Curator, MAK Glass and Ceramics Collection
Tour of the exhibition with Rainald Franz, Curator, MAK Glass and Ceramics Collection Thu, 4.12.2014, 5 p.m.
Tue, 13.1.2015, 6 p.m. Laura and Alessandro Santillana in conversation with Rainald Franz, curator of the exhibition and the MAK Glass and Ceramics Collection
With unique holdings from between the Middle Ages and the present, the MAKs Glass Collection is among the worlds
most important collections of its kind. The optically and technically impressive products made from fragile materials bring
to life the hand of the artist and the zeitgeist of the epoch.
The circa 1,500 works, work groups and bundles of documentation contained in this collection encompass the areas of fine art
and architecture: from avant-garde movements of the 1920s to current artistic stances, the holdings encompass works in various
media such as drawing, painting, photography video and film, as well as objects, sculptures, installations, environments and
architecture-related contributions including designs, models and animations.