The artist duo Monica Guggisberg (b. 1955) and Philip Baldwin (b. 1947) create simple but erratic vessel forms infused with an inner luminosity through the use of the Venetian battuto technique.
Philipp Baldwin from New York and Monica Guggisberg from Bern studied in the late 1970s at the renowned Orrefors Glasskolan in Sweden, where they launched their artistic collaboration. Crystalline vessels dominate the duo’s oeuvre. The high oval vase was initially blown in monochrome glass and then flashed with a solid overlay. Swung into its elongated shape on the glassblowing pipe, the vase was then given its final form in countless subsequent steps. In the mid-1990s, the two artists were inspired by the work of the Venetian architect and glass designer Carlo Scarpa from the 1930s and 1940s to use the battuto technique to “dramatically expand” their own expressive repertoire. They proceeded to combine the Swedish glassblowing technique with the Venetian cold-working process, using sharp cuts to open up a range of different windows in the glass or to create painterly depth by means of weblike textures. The process lends itself to evoking images from other contexts, for example imitating the bark of a tree or the flow of a river in twilight. But it also effectively evokes the pure joy in geometry and color, notably in the more expansive glass works by Baldwin and Guggisberg. Their pieces, usually designed with a sure hand by Guggisberg, are executed by Baldwin in a dance of strenuous manual steps, while the grinding is done by Venetian professionals on site in Murano under close guidance by the artists. (Sabine Flaschberger)