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Rainald Franz

  • Curator
  • Ambassador for Vienna, Austria
Rainald Franz Ambassador for Vienna, Austria

A fascination for history

Both his parents were historians, and he was fascinated by decorative arts from an early age. “We were in close contact with artists and craftsmen and museum experts all the time. I grew up surrounded by art,” recalls Rainald Franz. He was raised in Graz, Austria, and went on to study art history in Vienna, Munich, Rome, London and Venice. He was particularly captivated by the history of architecture, ornament, decorative arts and early design. Currently, he serves as the curator of the glass and ceramics collection at MAK, the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts. “The most memorable moment in my career was when I opened the Glass of the Architects exhibition at Le Stanze del Vetro in Venice in 2016,” he says. He is also Assistant Professor at the Vienna University of Applied Arts where he teaches the history of ornament.

What does craftsmanship signify for you?

Craftsmanship for me signifies a cultural value. All development in human culture from the beginning of mankind has been driven by craftsmanship, from the first stone axes and flint stones to contemporary design, and even future technical innovation will have to rely on the skill of craftsmen in order to be long-lasting.

How does it feature in your work and life?

My work at MAK and for ICDAD-UNESCOS has brought me into contact with objects, craftspeople, gallerists and museum figures in the sector worldwide. Conferences from Scandinavia to Japan have taught me much about decorative arts, craft and design nowadays, as well as special field trips to workshops.

Do you work with craftspeople?

Yes, for exhibitions I work with craftspeople whose objects I am collecting for the museum. I also collaborate with students training to become conservators and with the tile stove masters from the Tirol. For the Study Days of Venetian Glass, I work with distinguished glass and glass mosaic makers from Murano and Venice.

How would you define excellence?

Excellence is when craftspeople succeed at combining exceptional craftsmanship skills acquired from experience with a high level of taste and aesthetics for the making of an object.

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