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Homo Faber spotlights Europe’s finest master artisans who are passing on precious skills to the next generation of aspiring craftspeople in the exhibition Next of Europe

Europe’s “living treasures” - master artisans who embody the excellence of fine craftsmanship - are found in all corners of the continent. Many are using techniques and knowledge passed down from generation to generation to create contemporary pieces that reflect the genius loci of their territory.

Artisan Max Brosi - ©Steve Rogers Photography

• This room will feature an impressive selection of artworks by the very best European master artisans who are passing on their savoir-faire to the next generation of artisans

• Visitors will have the unique opportunity to observe the creative process and training methods through live artisan demonstrations

• A cabinet of curiosities will display an array of finely crafted objects which reflect the diversity of materials, expertise and savoir-faire deriving from different territories across Europe

This September, at Homo Faber in Venice, Next of Europe presents a spectacular showcase of Europe’s best craftspeople, authentic “living treasures” as per the Japanese definition and their beautifully crafted objects. Designed by renowned Italian architect Stefano Boeri and curated by gallerist Jean Blanchaert.

The protagonists of the Next of Europe exhibition are the master artisans who dedicate their time to also passing on their skills to the next generation through apprenticeships and training. Visitors will be able to admire artworks created by masters who embody this philosophy and see the different stages of the creative process through live artisan demonstrations. Watch how simple materials are rendered sophisticated by the touch of a master’s hand as the master artisans demonstrate their capacity for creativity and individuality in their manual work.

Jean Blanchaert has searched high and low, in every secret corner of Europe to discover gifted craftspeople and their masterpieces. Often hidden away and humble, these master artisans are seldom visible to the public. It is a rare opportunity to view Europe’s incredible array of artisanal talents. A cabinet of curiosities which seeks to mesmerise and astonish will be bursting with surprises to reflect the diversity of Europe’s craftspeople.

“Europe is so huge, so fantastic and so rich of high craft.” Jean Blanchaert

From the feathers of Florence and the metal of Georgia to the alabaster of Volterra or Luxembourg, delight in the beauty and richness of objects, materials and expertise deriving from different territories, full of their individual identities and unique heritages. In London, Tess Morley creates unique pieces using shells that she has collected on the British shores and beyond, from grotto style lamps to ornate mirrors, from caskets to salt cellars. In Paris, William Amor is upcycling plastic waste to create delicate floral works, each one imbued with his philosophy that plastic waste is a raw material with creative potential, that can be transformed in to beautiful objects which carry a strong message.

Artisan Leah Jensen - ©Jamie Trounce “The aim of our project is to shine a light on the oscillation between the aesthetic dimension and the productive functionality of a product; something which makes the Jean Blanchaert and Homo Faber perspectives on design and art craft so unique in today’s cultural context.” – Stefano Boeri

“In a world completely mechanical and completely dominated by the web, being able to use your hands to produce something beautiful and very often useful is very important. It’s keeping a link with our roots.” – Jean Blanchaert

Next of Europe is set in the Tapestry Hall at Fondazione Giorgio Cini. It is one of 17 exhibitions that comprise Homo Faber, organised by the Michelangelo Foundation.

Notes for editors
Homo Faber
Crafting a more human future
Fondazione Giorgio Cini, San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
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Homo Faber is the main event organised by the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship, an international non-profit organisation based in Geneva, Switzerland, which was set up to celebrate and preserve master craftsmanship around the world and strengthen its connection to design. Rooted in a tradition of culture and excellence and in the realities and challenges of today’s global economy, the foundation aims to support those who dedicate themselves to the pursuit of master craftsmanship and to foster a new cultural movement built around the values that are essential for their work. The Foundation focuses on Europe as a starting point for its activities, in recognition that craftsmanship has been a vital part of the economic and cultural fabric of the region for centuries, providing both a rich heritage and a competitive advantage in a global world.

Jean Blanchaert
Next of Europe is curated by Jean Blanchaert, a Belgian-Italian gallerist, antiquarian, glass sculptor and illustrator. For the past 30 years he has run his family’s gallery in Milan, which specialises in glass, ceramics, enamel and contemporary materials. Alongside this and his own career as a designer and artist, he curates and writes about design.

Stefano Boeri
Italian architect and Urban Planner, Stefano Boeri is a fulltime Professor at Politecnico in Milan and Director of the Future City Lab at Tongji University in Shanghai. Director of Domus (2004-2007) and Abitare (2007-2011), in 2018 he was appointed President of Fondazione Triennale Milano. Stefano Boeri Architetti’s work ranges from the production of urban visions and architectures to interior and furniture design.

Collaborating on Homo Faber with the Michelangelo Foundation are partner organisations that share its vision including: the Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte, the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, and The Japan Foundation.

Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte
The Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte is a private, non-profit institution founded in 1995. Based in Milan, it promotes cultural, scientific and educational initiatives for the protection and diffusion of artistic crafts. The Fondazione Cologni’s mission is to inspire a “new Renaissance” of the artistic crafts and rescue them from the threat of extinction. Many of its initiatives focus on young people and training future generations of artisans.

Fondazione Giorgio Cini
The Fondazione Giorgio Cini is a non-profit cultural institution based in Venice, Italy. Established by Vittorio Cini in 1951 with the aim of creating an international cultural centre re-integrating the San Giorgio Maggiore Island into the life of Venice and the region, today it is an important centre of humanistic studies and encourages the creation and development of educational, social, cultural and artistic institutions in the surrounding territory.

The Japan Foundation
The Japan Foundation, established in 1972, in Tokyo develops international cultural exchange programmes globally. The foundation’s aim is to promote Japanese culture to the world through programmes and activities in the following categories: art, cultural exchange, Japanese-language education and Japanese studies. The foundation has a global network, with 25 overseas branches in 24 countries. As part of their cultural programme, the foundation offers successful applicants support in the form of grants, research scholarships and training opportunities.

Grainne Watts Artisan©All rights reserved Iosefina Kosma Artisan©Kyriaki Dovinou Leah Jensen Artisan©Jamie Trounce Lise Gonthier Artisan©All rights reserved Max Brosi Artisan©Steve Rogers Photography Morten Klitgaard Artisan©All rights reserved Red 'Bindu' form Grainne Watts Artisan©All rights reserved Salvi Fausto Artisan©All rights reserved William Amor Artisan©William Amor Stefano Boeri Designer_Laila Pozzo©Michelangelo Foundation Jean Blanchaert Curator_Laila Pozzo©Michelangelo Foundation