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Object Timeline

1988

  • Work on this object began.

1991

  • Work on this object ended.

2013

  • We acquired this object.

2014

2019

  • You found it!

Via Portico d'Ottavia Vase, 1988–91

This is a Vase. It is dated 1988–91 and we acquired it in 2013. Its medium is mold-blown pâte-de-verre glass, applied resin. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Throughout his career, Gaetano Pesce has been characterized as a provocateur, always working outside the mainstream on everything from architecture and furniture to lighting and mirrors—as well as the glass pieces he created at the French glass center, CIRVA (Centre International de Recherche sur le Verre et les Arts Plastiques) in Marseille, France. Because of his fierce independence and his inquisitive, experimental process, the unconventional works he makes are often categorized as artistic creations.
Although Pesce arrived at CIRVA in 1988 with no glassmaking experience, he had no interest in accepting existing practices. Instead, he immediately began experimenting with the material, forms, and techniques. During his four years at CIRVA, he experimented with five traditional glassmaking techniques, including pâte-de-verre, the technique he modified to create Via Portico d'Ottavia, which is named after the colonnaded ancient structure in Rome. Pâte-de-verre, the French term for "glass paste," is usually brushed or tamped into a mold form. Pesce, however, chose to blow it into a mold, retaining the translucency associated with pâte-de-verre but realized in a more supple, molten, and asymmetrical shape. As with most of his designs, he engaged directly with the material. What is particularly interesting is that this work was made a couple of years after Pesce designed his iconic I Feltri armchair, a soft, upright, throne-like felt chair with a wide “floppy” collar. The forms of I Feltri and Via Portico d'Ottavia have similar, almost primeval shapes that hark back to earlier generic chairs and tripod vessels.
At the time of proposed acquisition, the museum holds several examples of this important designer's work, ranging from his upholstered Pop-era furniture to resin production pieces from the late 20th century. Via Portico d'Ottavia would be the boldest and most experimental of his works to enter the collection.

This object was donated by Kim Eiber. It is credited Gift of Kim and Al Eiber in honor of Caroline Baumann.

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Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 39.4 x 36.8 x 34.3 cm (15 1/2 x 14 1/2 x 13 1/2 in.)

Cite this object as

Via Portico d'Ottavia Vase, 1988–91; France; mold-blown pâte-de-verre glass, applied resin; H x W x D: 39.4 x 36.8 x 34.3 cm (15 1/2 x 14 1/2 x 13 1/2 in.); Gift of Kim and Al Eiber in honor of Caroline Baumann; 2013-43-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/68245549/ |title=Via Portico d'Ottavia Vase, 1988–91 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=17 February 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>