All over Europe, artist-artisans are using techniques and knowledge passed down over centuries to create stunning contemporary works that reflect their local environment.
• In the renowned ceramics town of Faenza, Italy, ceramicist Marta Gatti Servadei uses a special reflection technique invented by her great-uncle more than 90 years ago, a technique that is unique to the region and remains a closely guarded secret.
• In Holland, leather worker Sebastiaan van Soest gilds leather with silver leaf and varnish, upholding a tradition that began in the northern Netherlands in the 17th century.
• In County Galway, Ireland, Joe Hogan uses the willow trees around Loch na Fooey to continue the art of basketweaving that has been part of the area’s culture for thousands of years.
Hundreds of exceptional works created by some 150 artist-artisans from all over Europe will be on display in Venice this September in the Homo Faber exhibit Best of Europe, stunningly displayed in a room envisioned and designed by renowned Italian architect Stefano Boeri.
Each beautiful piece has been designed and executed by a single creative talent working in Europe today. They have been carefully selected for the exhibit by curator and gallerist Jean Blanchaert, who sought not only to showcase examples of European creativity and craftsmanship at the very highest level, but to demonstrate the diversity of Europe’s artistic heritage, as contemporary artisans draw on traditional techniques and materials that are firmly rooted in their homeland.
Just as an accent links a person to a place, or a fine wine reflects its terroir, so this collection of works echoes the DNA of the very earth where it was created. In Volterra, Italy, an artisan creates elaborately decorative vases from alabaster, a material that has been mined in the area for 3,000 years; and in Ubrique, Spain, a master leatherworker designs and makes contemporary leather objects incorporating his village’s old stone streets in the process of creation. Each of these 150 artist-artisans has immense respect for the past while striving to develop and innovate, taking ancient skills with them into the future.
Together, these fascinating objects tell a story of Europe, reflecting the richness of culture, history, landscape, know-how and skills that make up this incredibly diverse continent.
“In Europe the accent, the wine and the food changes every 30-40 miles. And so do the skills and techniques in craftsmanship.” – Jean Blanchaert.
As well as viewing the beautiful objects on display, visitors will also have the rare opportunity to see selected artist-artisans working in situ exclusively for the exhibit, showcasing techniques including metal working, engraving, stone carving and basket making.
Best of Europe is one of 16 exhibits that make up Homo Faber: Crafting a more human future, a major new exhibition celebrating European craftsmanship, organised by the Michelangelo Foundation.
Notes for editors
Crafting a more human future
Fondazione Giorgio Cini, San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
Free entry upon registration at homofaberevent.com
Homo Faber is the first major cultural exhibition dedicated to the very best in European craftsmanship. Organised by the Michelangelo Foundation, it aims to put fine craftsmanship on the global map and increase recognition and visibility for master artisans. The exhibition will bring together a vast range of materials and disciplines, from jewellery to bespoke bicycles, from the rarest artisanal techniques to some of the most iconic examples of the finest European workmanship. Created by a hand-picked team of world-class designers, curators and architects, the exhibition stretches over a number of magnificent spaces throughout the Fondazione Giorgio Cini. homofaberevent.com
The Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship is an international, nonprofit institution based in Geneva, Switzerland, which celebrates and preserves master craftsmanship and strengthens its connection to the world of design. Rooted in a tradition of culture and excellence and in the realities and challenges of today’s global economy, the Foundation seeks to support men and women 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. michelangelofoundation.org
Best 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. galleriablanchaert.it
Italian architect and urban planner Stefano Boeri is one of the world’s leaders in his field. A professor of urban planning at the Politenico in Milan, he has also been a guest professor at universities around the world including Harvard in the US. He founded a studio in Milan in 1999 and later opened a second in Shanghai. He has authored many books and is the former editor-in-chief of the international magazines Domus and Abitare. In 2018 he was appointed chairman of the Triennale in Milan. stefanoboeriarchitetti.net