Met’s modern glass collection transformed by Israeli collector

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David Landau and his wife Marie-Rose Kahane have donated 44 Carlo Scarpa works to New York

Works from the Landau and Kahane collection made their US debut earlier this year in an exhibition at the Met © Metropolitan Museum

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is beefing up its glass collection with a gift of 44 works by the Italian architect Carlo Scarpa from the collection of David Landau and his wife Marie-Rose Kahane. The donation is expected to have a “transformative impact on our holdings of 20th-century glass and design”, says Sheena Wagstaff, the museum’s chairman of modern and contemporary art, in a statement.

Scarpa created the objects during his 15-year collaboration with Venini Glassworks in Venice between 1932 and 1947. Together, the architect and Paolo Venini, the founder of the glass company, modernised glassblowing and pioneered innovations in colour, form and technique. The 44 works from the Landau and Kahane collection made their US debut earlier this year in the Met’s exhibition “Venetian Glass by Carlo Scarpa: The Venini Company, 1932-1947”.

The donation includes some of Scarpa’s most boundary-pushing works. Six vessels were created using the bollicine technique, which employs potassium nitrate to make air bubbles inside glass. Also included are 12 pieces of mezza filigrana glass: paper-thin works that weigh just a few ounces each.

New York’s gain of Scarpa’s works is Italy’s loss. Landau, an Israeli-born entrepreneur, lives in Venice and is the founder of Le Stanze del Vetro, the city’s only dedicated space for exhibitions of 20th-century and contemporary glass. But the collector says he felt compelled to send the works to New York after gauging the impact they would have on the museum’s collection and witnessing Wagstaff’s commitment to Scarpa’s work.

The donation also adds to the growing number of works of Italian modern art—which rarely travel internationally—that are now accessible in New York. The Guggenheim is staging the massive exhibition “Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe” (until 1 September), while the newly opened Centre for Italian Modern Art in Soho is preparing to open an exhibition of the modernist Medardo Rosso on 16 October.

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