The life

Ermanno Nason was born in Murano on July 21st, 1928 in one of the islands oldest families of master glassmakers. He made his first acquaintance with his father Italo’s glass furnace at the tender age of ten. “I began working when I was still at elementary school and my passion for glass was so strong that every day, after school, I went to my father’s glass furnace. Notwithstanding the rigour of glass making I always found him satisfied and content with his work”.

After Ermanno left elementary school he divided his time between glass furnaces and the apprentice glassmakers school “Abate Zanetti”, then run by Professor Vittorio Zecchin. In this period he worked and learned his trade in various firms, including Pinzan & Cimarrosti where he was proclaimed master glassmaker at 18.

Cocteau

In his youth, Ermanno also worked at the glass furnace of Mazzega I.V.R. cooperating on Egidio Costantini’s great project that brought together extraordinary artists drawn from the various fine arts – painters, sculptors and master glassmaker – and to which Jacques Cocteau, in 1958, gave the name “Fucina degli Angeli”.

As he himself related during an interview, this experience launched him on his own personal research into glass working and afforded him further possibilities of working alongside world renowned painters and sculptors. And in fact Ermanno was to work with all the great artists of his time  from Marc Chagall to Oscar Kokoschka, from Pablo Picasso to Renato Guttuso, from Jacques Cocteau to Braque, from Jan Arp to Max Ernst, from Autun Motika to  Alexander Calder and many others…

The difficulties faced in the Second World War were not so much the result of economic straits as the crisis that befell artistic work in Murano, the island of handcrafted glass. Furnaces were converted to produce moulded glasses, for which there was large market demand at the time, and to which the maestro had to resign himself.

However, in the post-war “Ermanno Nason, this impassioned researcher and craftsman, more than anyone else came to represent the commingling of elements, styles, arguments and techniques. The art historian may attempt to give order and sense to such creations, but they escape neat categories and rebuff any type of classification.

After a number of years as a self-employed artist, Ermanno accepted the role of first master at the furnace of Gino Cenedese & Figlio, but later returned to work for his own account. He gave up productive work in 1993 when a fire destroyed both his factory and many works of inestimable value forcing him to definitively abandon the art of glass working.

Up until his death in January 2013 he spent all his free time painting.

“Taking on the work of such a gifted and versatile artist, one endowed with a great sensibility, and especially one who had the temerity to venture into very insidious territories, veritable minefields that would have dissuaded anybody else; attempting to empathise with such an insatiable curiosity, fuelled by an exceptional mastery of the material, or even attempting to distinguish original from imitative works, is a virtually impossible task”.

Luciani

“Ermanno received numerous and enticing offers to work abroad but he always refused them for two reasons. First, he was unwilling to leave Murano, its furnaces, and the light and atmosphere of the lagoon to which he owed so much and to which he was very attached. But above all he was reluctant to disclose secrets and procedures which he believed were not only his own but also part and parcel of a collective heritage, the result of a centuries-old tradition, that deserved to be conserved and transmitted. Although this choice went against the grain he never had any hesitations or second thoughts, and in the light of later developments we must deem this choice as a generous sacrifice made for a sincere love for his home and people”.

For this reason, the family has decided to pay tribute to Ermanno and publicise the artist and his works throughout the world by offering works treasured throughout his life to public view.