The Barbini family was involved in glass making from 17th century onwards. They were outstanding glass blowers and bead makers. Alfredo Barbini was born in 1912 in Murano. He got his glass art training from Abate Zanetti, the ancient school of glass blowing. He was an expert glass blower at the age of 12 and started his glass blowing career under Ferro Toso in 1925.
At the age of 17 he joined Cristalleria di Venezia e Murano as their master glass blower. In 1932 he joined Zecchin- Martinuzzi firm. His experience with the great Napoleone Martinuzzi enhanced his techniques and workmanship. The foundation to his great expertise in sculpting with solid glass was laid at this stage. In 1937 he became a partner at V.A.M.S.A. There he continued with his experiments in thick glass sculpting. In 1948 he participated in Venice Biennale and his collection of sculptures in corroso glass such as Torso and Collasso won great accolade for him.
In 1950 Alfredo Barbini was able to establish his own glass blowing furnace called Vetreria Alfredo Barbini. The establishment was reorganized and named as Alfredo Barbini S.r.l. Even then, his research with solid glass sculpting was continued without a hitch. As a result a series of unique glass art pieces were produced in the 1960s. Vetri Pesanti, Pesci and Tulipani are all glowing examples of the same. He worked as the Artistic Director of the firm for quite a long time, till he died in 2007.
He was conferred with several awards and honors for his great artistic work. Alfredo Barbini was awarded with ‘Osella d'Oro’ by the Venice Industrial association. He was also given an honorary title ‘Commendatore’. In the year 1989, Settimare Association named Alfredo Barboini ‘1989 Venetian of the Year’. The great artist died in 2007.
The tradition of Alfredo Barbini is well represented by his children Oceania Barbini-Moretti and Flavio Barbini. He daughter serves as the sales manager and son Flavio is the designer.
Vetreria Alfredo Barbini specializes in crafting exotic decorative and utility objects with thick glass. The sommerso productions of Barbini are considered to be the benchmarks in similar productions. The Barbini ‘Circus tent’ series is world famous. The products of the company include very simple day-to-day objects like bowls and paper weights to exquisite glass sculptors and other decorative articles. The marvelously formed floral lamp shades of Alfredo Barbini are popular all over the world.
Vetreria Alfredo Barbini is the last word in Murano heavy glass craft. The grand glass tradition that Alfredo Barbini started in 1950 continues without losing any of its splendor and grandeur, till date.
by Marina Chernyak
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