Fulvio Bianconi (1915-1996): Vases and Objects

Italian artist, designer, illustrator, and caricaturist, Fulvio Bianconi (1915-1996) left a lasting impression on the Murano glass industry. Renowned for his innovative and experimental designs Bianconi rose to prominence within the field.

Fulvio Bianconi’s vases and creations embodied his insatiable fascination with the medium, his pioneering techniques, and his love for boldness.

"When Bianconi has gathered a certain amount of sketches and notes related to glass, he travels to Murano where master glassmakers await him to collaborate. Because Bianconi is not a table artist who studies his vases with the compass and the golden section, he prefers to go directly to the furnace to work together with the master and it is so much the intense passion with which Bianconi makes his glass – that he can enter the soul of the master and make him act according to his own will.”
Italian Artist Bruno Munari

Fulvio Bianconi in 1951

Creative Path from the Very Start

Early on the son of musician Virginio and Elvira, a housewife, showed an exceptional talent for drawing. In Venice, he attended the Carmini School of Art and worked as an apprentice decorator in Michele Pinto's workshop.

Later he worked in various locations in northern Italy and Istria, drawing and decorating churches and making portraits. In 1933 Dino Villani introduced him to graphic design work at Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Motta, and other Milanese publishing houses. In the 1950s he worked as a graphic designer for companies such as FIAT, Marzotto, Pirelli, Rai, HMV, and other well-known companies.

Fulvio Bianconi’s Artistic Journey with Murano Glass

His artistic journey with glass began in the 1930s at the renowned Barovier & Toso glassworks in Murano. After the war, in 1946, Gi. Vi. Emme (Giviemme) commissioned him to design new perfume bottles and sent him to Paolo Venini.

Over the years, his exploration of the medium of glass has not been limited to perfume bottles, and he has also designed Murano glass vases, bowls, and objects.

Decades-long Partnership with Venini

Fulvio Bianconi's partnership with Venini, the renowned glassware company, began in the late 1940s and continued in phases. Their collaboration stretched through the mid-1950s, saw episodic work in the 1960s, and then reignited in the late 1980s, lasting until the early 1990s. Throughout these years, Bianconi and Paolo Venini fostered a productive relationship built on mutual respect and shared passion. This collaboration had a significant impact, with Bianconi's influence shaping the direction of Venini's glassware production.

Venini Vases: Bianconi's Most Famous Designs

Fulvio Bianconi's vases and objects are known for their unique shapes, vibrant colors, and often whimsical or playful elements. He was a master of design – incorporating various glassmaking techniques, including incalmo (layered glass) and murrine (glass rods). These techniques allowed him to evoke stunning visual effects.

Highly Sought-after Rarities

The "Scozzese" vase is renowned for its intricate craftsmanship. It features a distinctive tartan pattern, which is achieved through a complex process of layering and fusing colored glass canes. Intersecting stripes of vibrant colors create a dynamic and visually captivating plaid-like effect. The "Bikini" vase is inspired by the bikini swimsuit, symbolizing the changing fashion and social norms of the 1950s. The vase captures the playful and liberated spirit of the era, making it a standout piece in any collection.

Bianconi's "A macchie" vases exemplify his creative vision and his ability to infuse art with playfulness and spontaneity. The spots and splashes on the vases seem almost accidental, giving each piece a sense of individuality and artistic freedom – with designs ranging from abstract forms to figurative work.

Pezzato Arlecchino' vase, ca. 1950

“Pezzato Arlecchino” Vases: Mesmerizing Mosaics

The design of his Pezzato Arlecchino” series is characterized by its vibrant, patchwork-like pattern made of irregularly shaped, colorful glass pieces, reminiscent of the colorful costume of the Harlequin (Arlecchino) character from the Italian Commedia dell'arte theater. The term "Pezzato" translates to "patchwork" or "patched" in Italian, reflecting the mosaic-like appearance of the glass objects.

  • Each piece is handcrafted, making every item unique in its specific arrangement and color distribution.
  • The design from Bianconi is produced by Venini, one of the most prestigious and innovative glass manufacturers in Murano, Italy.
  • The design aligns with the mid-century modern aesthetic, emphasizing bold colors and dynamic forms.

“Pezzato Arlecchino“ vases are highly sought after by collectors.

"bowl with spirales". 1962

“A Spirale” Vases: Elegant Curves

Bianconi’s A Spirale” series prominently features spiraling lines or bands that wrap around the glass object, creating a dynamic and flowing appearance. The spirals are meticulously applied to the glass surface during the manufacturing process.

Objects featuring the "A Spirale" design include vases, bowls, and other decorative glassware. They convey a sense of movement and elegance – an organic and fluid form. As with the "Pezzato" design, the "A Spirale" design is produced by Venini. These pieces stand out as dynamic and visually captivating works of art.

Ritagli vase, limited edition

“Ritagli” Vases: Cuttings Create Texture

The “Ritagli” glass design is another iconic creation by Fulvio Bianconi for the Venini glassworks company, characterized by its unique approach to incorporating cut or "ritagli" (Italian for "scraps" or "cuttings") of glass into the design.

Handcrafted by skilled artisans, the process involves fusing the scraps into the main glass structure, which requires precision and experience.
This experimental technique achieves a striking visual effect with one-of-a-kind textures. Each piece is a statement of artistic creativity and innovation.

"Handkerchief'' vase ''zanfirico'' Fulvio Bianconi for Venini, Murano, ca. 1955

Fazzoletto Vases: Capturing the Motion of Soft Fabric

The “Fazzoletto” vase, also known as the "handkerchief vase," is a highly iconic design in the world of glass art and a testament to the innovation and creativity of post-war Italian art. The design is credited to Fulvio Bianconi and Paolo Venini.

Its shape mimics the fluid and flowing form of a handkerchief or a piece of fabric. The edges are typically wavy, undulating, and free form, giving the vase an organic and dynamic appearance. This design captures the motion and softness of a handkerchief being draped or caught in the wind.

The hand-blown glass can be clear, colored, or decorated with various pattern techniques such as murrine (mosaic glass), filigrana (threads of glass), or other traditional Murano techniques.

Zebra with monkey in opaque polychrome glass, 1948

Figures & Animals

Fulvio Bianconi's Figures and Animals capture a sense of movement and personality:

For example, the piece “Zebra with monkey” (1948-49) in opaque polychrome glass, combines traditional Murano glassmaking techniques with a modern, almost cartoonish aesthetic – highlighting Bianconi's talent for infusing his work with character and humor.

Discover More of Fulvio Bianconi’s Pieces at 1000 Objekte

Peter Grünbaum showcases a variety of Bianconi pieces in his collection. Interested in purchasing a vase, bowl, or object created by the famous artist Fulvio Bianconi?

Select your favorite item from our collection here »

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My current collection includes 2000 different vases and objects. If you have any questions or would like to view my collection in Zurich, please do not hesitate to contact me.