Born in Venice in 1894, Dino Martens studied painting and design at the Accademia di Belle Art in Rome. A talented artist, his paintings were exhibited at the Venice Biennale between 1924 and 1930.
In the mid-1920s, Martens was a partner and decorator for S.A.L.I.R. and later took a position as designer for Salviati & Co. In 1939, upon returning from the African War, Martens became artistic director for the famed glass firm, Aureliano Toso.
Martens' work for Aureliano Toso has become legendary for its inventiveness, experimentation and excess. His innovative use of oversized murrines, brightly colored metallic powders and fragments of glass rods, all expressed in wildly biomorphic forms, have become synonymous with Murano glass style of the 1950s.
The Oriente series in particular can be seen as the ultimate expression of Martens’ vision - biomorphic shapes and patchwork compositions full of multi-colored Zanfirico canes, sprays of brightly colored pigment, and black and white murrine pin-wheels. While the Oriente series does possess an undeniable shock-value, even Martens’ wildest designs were carefully rendered from preparatory drawings. To many of these he also attached poetic names such as Nabucco, Ati and Dialettica.
Martens’ life as a soldier, adventurer and painter ultimately found concrete expression in his glass designs. He flourished in the post-war climate of openness which encouraged experimentation. Of the numerous series he created in the 1950s, each seems to suggest an endless array of variants and possibilities.
During his final years at Aureliano Toso, Martens designed pieces which express a greater sensitivity to subtle chromatic effects. For these he often chose elongated forms. These pieces are quite rare, and demonstrate a refined aesthetic at the end of a vibrant and dynamic creative life.
He died in Venice in 1970.