The creation of the glass version of the Ottaviano Augusto began in 2010 and stemmed from Giberto Arrivabene Valenti Gonzaga’s profound passion for history, sculpture and glass.
Inspired by the bronze works by Ferdinand Barbedienne (1810-1892), copies themselves of classical works, Giberto wanted to explore the glass’ potential. Relying on glass Master Giorgio Giuman’s expertise in the lost wax technique, Giberto overcame the technical difficulties and surmounted the material’s physical limits.
Ottaviano Augusto’s bust reflects the desire to consider glass as a sculptural material. The creative process in the realization of these pieces is in fact quite complex: the wax model is made from a first mould and then inserted in a steel container in which liquid gesso is poured. As soon as the gesso solidifies the container is inserted in a furnace. There, the wax melts, thus leaving the sculpture’s negative. The mould, faithful to Ottaviano Augusto’s original shapes, is finally filled with incandescent glass that will temper in the furnace for three days.
Ottaviano Augusto is produced in crystal, black, and amber to which in 2021 a new version in green avventurina glass is added.
In 2021 the five versions of Ottaviano Augusto (amber, crystal, bronze, avventurina and wax) are shown at VITREA. Vetro italiano contemporaneo d’autore, curated by Jean Blanchaert at Quadreria di Triennale in Milano (5 May – 22 August 2021).
In September 2017, during the first edition of The Venice Glass Week, the three versions of Ottaviano Augusto (amber, bronze and crystal) are shown at Galleria Palwer, Venice.
In 2016 Ottaviano Augusto in amber glass is on show at Arte del Vetro Oggi in Italia (25 May – 11 September 2016) curated by Jean Blanchaert at Villa Necchi Campiglio, Milano and Villa dei Vescovi, Luvigliano (Padova), exposition supported by FAI and by Fondazione Cologni (Catalogo Skira, Milano).
Artist: Giberto Arrivabene Valenti Gonzaga
Title: Ottaviano Augusto
Technique: lost wax
Dimensions: 46.5 x 35 x 22 cm
Color: crystal, amber, black, avventurina
Weight: 21 kg
Limited edition of 9 per color
Price upon request
The encounter between Adam Lowe, founder of Factum Arte, and Giberto Arrivabene Valenti Gonzaga was a fortuitous one. Stunned by emperor Ottaviano Augusto’s Murano glass bust, which Giberto produced with the antique lost wax technique, Adam suggested implementing his high-tech equipment for the creation of a second copy of a neoclassical masterpiece.
They chose Paolina Bonaparte, masterfully represented by Antonio Canova (1805-1808) as Venus victorious – with the victory apple in her left hand – in an extremely modern pose. Paolina Borghese, today at Galleria Borghese in Rome, is an incredibly fascinating work. It was quite often replicated in gesso or bronze as a souvenir from the Grand Tour, but it was never reproduced in glass.
A new version of Canova’s masterpiece is born: a sanded crystal glass sculpture that celebrates the Borghese Princess’ sensual curves.
Technically, Paolina Borghese is the result of a complicated process: the first step is a meticulous scan of the original, which was made possible only with the implementation of highly sophisticated machines that Factum Arte, world leader in the digital reproduction of artwork copies, flew in from Spain.
After having secured the proper authorization from the Ministry for Heritage and Cultural Activities and Galleria Borghese itself, Giberto and Adam spent three nights at the Museum to obtain a complete scan of the marble sculptures. Later, at Factum Arte’s workshop in Madrid, the digital scan is translated in a silicon model, a perfect 1:2 scale copy of the original.
Paolina Borghese’s silicon is then shipped to Maestro Giorgio Giuman’s Murano furnace, where a rubber mould in which to pour the wax is created. The wax sculpture is then inserted into a steel container where it is covered in liquid gesso. Once solidified, the pierced gesso is inserted in the furnace where the wax melts away, thus revealing the negative.
Giorgio Giuman and Giberto then transport the gesso mould, true to Paolina Borghese’s shapes, to a foundry in Empoli where it is preheated and filled with lead glass. In order to correctly temper the glass – approximately 70 kg – the sculpture is left to rest in its own furnace for a month. The sculpture is then shipped back to Murano where it is cleaned of its impurities and prepared for the sanding process, which gives the sculpture its icy effect.
In 2018 the three versions of Paolina Borghese – wax, gesso and glass – become part of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s permanent collection and are on show in the Cast Courts.
In 2017 the three versions of Paolina Borghese are shown at Divina Paolina, a temporary exposition curated by Mario Guderzo at the Antonio Canova Museum in Possagno (8 November 2017 – 28 October 2018).
In September 2017, for the first edition of The Venice Glass Week, Paolina Borghese is presented at Galleria Palwer, Venice (Italy).
In 2016 Paolina Borghese is part of A world of fragile parts, the Victoria and Albert Museum’s participation in the XV edition of the Architecture Biennale – Reporting from the Front (Venice, Italy 28 May – 17 November 2016).
Technique: lost wax
Dimensions: 98 x 36 cm
Color: sanded crystal
Weight: 77 kg
Limited edition of 9
Price upon request
Giberto Arrivabene Valenti Gonzaga inherited his rigor from his military father, his fascination for aesthetics from his mother. Raised in a palazzo with frescoes by Tiepolo and surrounded by precious objects, he developed an inherit propension to beauty, which is expressed in his artistic practice. His deep ties with his hometown, Venice, led him to naturally start working with glass, first by creating home décor items and later with the creation of sculptures, thus pushing glass beyond its physical boundaries.
The creation of the beautiful Sleeping putto is part of the same creative and aesthetic mechanism: a marble sculpture, attributable to the circle of Bartolomeo Ferrari (1780-1844), that has been watching over the Arrivabene family since its arrival by inheritance through Giberto’s Papadopoli lineage. Chosen as the dining room table’s centerpiece for its tender lines and sweet smile, the sculpture finds new vibrant light in glass.
The first replica of the Sleeping putto, produced in Murano in the summer of 2018, is once again the result of the synergy between Giberto’s inspiration and Murano glass Master Giorgio Giuman’s experience in the antique lost wax technique.
In September 2018, during the second edition of The Venice Glass Week, the glass version of the putto was presented at Ca’ Pesaro – Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna in dialogue with the museum’s collection. The exhibition was accompanied by the lecture between Giberto Arrivabene Valenti Gonzaga, Gabriella Belli, head of the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, and Adam Lowe, founder of Factum Arte.
Technique: lost wax
Material: Murano glass
Dimensions: 43 x 27 x 27 cm
Color: sanded crystal
Weight: 16 kg
Limited edition of 15
Price upon request
In 2017 Giberto Arrivabene Valenti Gonzaga observed Lucio Fontana’s artworks with a new interest, especially the Spatial concepts, that idea and desire to go beyond physical space. He rediscovered him when traveling to Buenos Aires, where the artist lived and created the Manifiesto Blanco, the first step towards the theorization of the concept of Spatialism.
Once back in Venice, Giberto reflects on the possibility of “slashing” glass, as an homage to the father of the spatial movement. In 2019, collaborating with glass Master Gianni Seguso, the Homage to Fontana was born, a large vase on which one or more cuts is engraved, revealing the color of the glass on the inside.
Although Venice is known as the “dead city”, it is tightly linked to the contemporary world: it has extraordinary museums and hosts the world-renowned Biennale. For Giberto, glass interpretations of modern art continue with the deeper understanding of Piero Manzoni and Alberto Burri, two artists that are quite distant in style but equally interesting for the possible realization of glass variants.
Master Seguso once again took on the challenge and created the Homage to Manzoni, a vase approximately thirty centimeters tall, handblown in white glass and convoluted in a tangle of heat-sealed filaments to obtain the same effect as the Acrome.
The research on Burri of course diverted on the understanding of fire, the element connecting glass to the Italian artist’s Combustioni. In Murano, and with Gianni Seguso’s expertise and technique, the Homage to Burri was born, a black glass vase entirely covered in a film of deep red glass powder. Finally, the piece was enveloped by crystal glass applications that highlight the superposition of chromatic planes, recreating Burri’s plastics’ effect.
The three vases are in line with the continuous research Giberto has been conducting for years: translating some of art history’s most admirable works into glass. An interpretation that also becomes a different way to approach art itself, observing it from a new and original point of view, while still being an homage to the millennial Murano glass tradition, which is capable – when urged to do so – of constant renovation.
In September 2019, during the third edition of The Venice Glass Week, the three vases were presented at Ca’ Pesaro – International Gallery of Modern Art in dialogue with the museum’s collection. The exhibition was accompanied by a lecture between Giberto Arrivabene Valenti Gonzaga, Elisabetta Barisoni, Head of the International Gallery of Modern Art, and Luca Massimo Barbero, Director of the Institute of Art History at Fondazione Giorgio Cini and President of the Scientific Committee at Le Stanze del Vetro.
- Technique: handblown glass
- Material: Murano glass
- Year: 2019
- Dimensions: h 26, ∅ 20 cm
- Color: black and white with one slash or black and orange with three slashes
- Weight: 2 kg
Limited Edition of 15