August 23, 2001 1:34 PM   Subscribe

Amazing stuff in glass artist Dale Chihuly's latest installation at the V&A Museum in London. He continues to amaze me. I envy those who can experience it in person.
posted by abosio (28 comments total)
yeah, the chandeliers are impressive pieces - the last one i saw in person was at the american craft museum in nyc. i met chihuly about ten years ago when i was at risd, but was even more dazzled to meet lino tagliapietra, the master craftsman who frequently collaborates with chihuly and actually executes many of chihuly's designs (in addition to creating his own fabulous works)...
posted by judith at 1:47 PM on August 23, 2001

I'd like to pre-empt any of the "but he doesn't actually make any of the stuff anymore" talk. Granted, his assistants perform all the heavy lifting, but his vision is remarkable. If you have ever watched footage of his team creating work in his studio, you will respect his ability to coax great things out of his assistants without even having to say a word. Anyone interested in getting involved in glassblowing should look into attending summer classes at Pilchuck or Haystack. Judith, I was at RISD at the same time. Small world.
posted by machaus at 1:53 PM on August 23, 2001

The art museum on the campus of Kansas State University (where I work) has one of his chandelier pieces hanging above the main stairwell. It is massive and light at the same time - you're right, abosio, the experience in person is stunning.
posted by donnagirl at 2:00 PM on August 23, 2001

When my mom visited Seattle, we made sure to check out the Chihuly pieces in Benaroya Hall. They did indeed rule.
posted by kindall at 2:10 PM on August 23, 2001

I had seen Dale work on some PBS show and found his work fascinating, but when when my wife and I went to Las Vegas and saw his works in the lobby of the Bellagio hotel (one of my favorites) I was blown away.

Also, if you ever get to Vegas, do yourself a favor and see "O" (also at the Bellagio), put on by Cirque du Soleil. You will walk away a changed person... it's that good! It was almost spiritual in its beauty.
posted by crankydoodle at 2:11 PM on August 23, 2001

Yeah, it's not like he's not standing right there telling them what do to. The stuff is too big for one person to handle anyway.

Man, I love to watch those guys work that stuff. I become mesmerized. When I was in grade school I went on a school field trip to Wheaton Village and couldn't stay and watch them long enough. From something as grand as the molten glass coming out of glory holes to a lady making marbles with reeds of glass and a blowtorch, I was hooked.
posted by abosio at 2:23 PM on August 23, 2001

I must confess that I'm a Bad Person: I'm very very very tired of Chihuly. IMHO, he's in a rut -- I've seen the same basic concept from him *way* too many times.

...but I suppose this really just means that I'm jaded. One too many glass shows I guess.
posted by aramaic at 2:29 PM on August 23, 2001

Venturing into the realm of "I know what I like...":

In my more polite moments, I says Chihuly is over-rated. The technique is certainly impressive, but to me it's a misguided attempt in an inappropriate medium to imitate nature. When I followed glass art (some time ago , things may have evolved) his gaffers did better, simpler work on their own. Their problem was that they didn't have Chihuly's astounding (and to me ridiculous) talent for self-promotion. The times I've been in his presence (word used advisedly), I was continuously amazed at the amount of effort that went into making sure everyone paid attention to him being artistic. (Did someone just say "ad hominem"? Well, he's the one who makes himself such a big part of the public's perception of his work.)

No, I'm not a bitter, unrecognized artist - my major accomplishments in glassblowing were alb apparatus in my analytical chemisty days. I just happened to be involved in a restaurant project he did the chandeliers for & you can see the result.

Oh yeah, and what aramaic says, too.
posted by skyscraper at 2:40 PM on August 23, 2001

"lab" not "alb". My first post, and I've already got a reputation as an illiterate.
posted by skyscraper at 2:43 PM on August 23, 2001

i think that there's this 2-sided debate in the glass world over chihuly - on the one hand, he's nearly single-handedly created the american studio glass movement (along with people like harvey littleton and jamie carpenter), but on the other hand, the attention of the american public has not spread much beyond that. check out the traver gallery or the heller gallery for images from many remarkable contemporary glass artists who are working in some really interesting directions. (hey machaus, what program were you in at risd?)
posted by judith at 2:49 PM on August 23, 2001

on a side note, who knew there were so many glassblowers and/or glass aficionados on metafilter?
posted by judith at 2:51 PM on August 23, 2001

LOL, Judith! :) Many more comments on this that I thought there would be as well.

My wife and I thought we were the only glass fetishists around... we really want to learn how at some of the classes they have in Seattle.
posted by crankydoodle at 2:53 PM on August 23, 2001

I guess I'm jaded to live in Seattle - his stuff is everywhere. I find that most of it looks the same, though. How many times can you do the spermy-looking glass thing?
posted by endquote at 3:15 PM on August 23, 2001

Judith, I was in Industrial Design. As the old cliche goes, we were too stupid to be architects, and not creative enough to sculptors.
posted by machaus at 3:23 PM on August 23, 2001

hmm. we should play the name game then - i knew a bunch of folks in ID.
posted by judith at 3:31 PM on August 23, 2001

I'll email you at calamondin.
posted by machaus at 3:34 PM on August 23, 2001

I think the issue of an artist who is good at self-promotion is an interesting one. I would have never paid attention to art glass if I hadn't been urged to check out the Chihuly exhibit when it was here in Portland. Now, I've become very interested in the history of glassblowing and the various artists who do it. It's a fascinating medium.

It's funny, though. Artists just don't get "deserved" respect, it seems, unless they're dead. What's the point in that? Once something becomes "popular" -- why does it lose it's appeal to certain people?
posted by amanda at 5:44 PM on August 23, 2001

I'm with skyscraper & aramaic. oh, wow, chihuly. <yawn> of course, I'm living in Pierce Co (Tacoma) WA, where he is worshipped as if a god. yep, we're building the International Museum of Glass. ( does look pretty cool...I've been enjoying watching the bit smokestack-spirey-thing go up.)

someone I knew who worked at the local paper said that the (enormous green) chihuly in their lobby was referred to among the staff as "...and god sneezed" - and we once had a battle at a former workplace over several people (myself included) posting bumper stickers in our cubicles that said "recycle chihuly."

the one piece/installation of his that I really do like, is, unfortunately, not available on the web - it's in this building - not the blue chandelier, which I hate, but a wonderful collection of bright orange/yellow disks in the window, like melted stained glass. (I used to work near there.)

and I think his self-promotion & accompanying fame has been of some detriment to other local artists - and an easy way for the faux-elite around here to "support the arts."
posted by epersonae at 7:01 PM on August 23, 2001

I love Chihuly, but he tends to get stuck in ruts (how many Baskets has he done already?!)

I rather like work of William Morris. Not is he a remarkable craftsman, he uses glass to create artifacts from some unknown civilization that may or may not have ever existed.

Also, call me shallow, but William easier on the eyes than Dale.
posted by otherchaz at 10:05 PM on August 23, 2001

Glass art is interesting to me because it seems like it's in some kind of limbo zone right now. It's trying to make the transition from craft to art--from being something that you make plates and cups with, to being something that is made with no intention of ever being used for anything food related, but rather to be displayed in a museum. That, even if you don't like the glass art itself, is interesting. The next generation of glass-blowers, I hear, some starting at 10 years of age, will probably have quite a bit to show us. Right now, a lot of it still seems to be focused on technical skill, but eventually (and I think Chihuly has actually helped in this front, maybe unintentionally) there will be glass art that is not that difficult to make, but which surpasses the technically difficult in its artistic expression and vision.

Sure, we can pull out our fancy and informed tastes, but can we really hate Chihuly for helping to bring this transformation out of obsurity and into my (and your) attention? I mean, I never would've considered glass art at all if it wasn't all over Seattle, and it's mostly to his credit that it is. And now my wife is working at the Foster/White gallery, currently showing like a hundred of Chihuly's newest work. Bringing something into the mainstream may seem like a cheapening of the art, but it will mean more glass artists in the future, and some of those will be great.

The self-promotion issue is really interesting too. Can we hate a person for being able to control his own career to a certain extent? Would we prefer that he gets stepped on and abused like so many of the other artists out there? I've heard horror stories, from within Seattle even, of artists never getting paid for their work, and basically being ripped off by the galleries and public that is supposed to support them. I guess it's the same with any industry though, the record industry, the publishing industry... artists everywhere being abused, because we're weak and confused and just so passionate about art and stupid about business. But look how we hate artists who are good businessmen.

To say that you're tired of it, or that it all looks the same, though.... I don't know, that's fine, check out Lino, Pino, and Tino, and watch how this new medium is challenged and bent in the coming years, eventually there might be something you like that you wouldn't have seen if it weren't for our good ol' pirate.

ps. What about those puffy-paint canvases! :)
posted by mockerybird at 10:19 PM on August 23, 2001

i think you're mostly right, erik, but from the perspective of artists in the industry, while it's great that chihuly brings folks to the table, it kind of sucks that folks keep coming to the table only for chihuly & the chihuly-clones. i think it's a young medium though (not glass per se, but the american art glass movement) and it will evolve past that.
posted by judith at 10:45 PM on August 23, 2001

True. But isn't that always true? Artists upset about why the average patron of arts only patronizes the most popular, leaving many other equally (if not more) talented artists to buy their food in boxes and packets that must be mixed with water? Starving! Unappreciated!
posted by mockerybird at 11:25 PM on August 23, 2001

I saw some of what I believe was his work at the Atlantis hotel in the Bahamas, it was quite beautiful.
posted by Nothing at 11:37 PM on August 23, 2001

I have been a little bit aware of the debate of Chihuly and his work, but all in all I know nothing about "the world of glass art." I'm not a Seattle person who sees his stuff all the time. I'm not a glass blower myself, with my own opinions on the art. All I know is that when I see his work, it stirs something inside me unlike other glass artists. Isn't that what art is all about? Admittedly, its everyone's personal preference.
posted by abosio at 6:25 AM on August 24, 2001

Seattle, Seattle, Tacoma, Seattle. (I'm there, too.) Are there any other concentrations of glassy people out there?

machaus: architects aren't any smarter than id people, we're just better at waving our arms around.
posted by skyscraper at 8:54 AM on August 24, 2001

I saw his work in Nebraska and it was simply beautiful. I want to see as many other artists as possible, but how many do you think I can find out here in the middle of nowhere? I don't care if he puffs himself up or not, so long as I can actually SEE him. Or actually, his art.
posted by stoneegg21 at 9:14 AM on August 24, 2001


Well, foo. Speaking as a Seattle-monkey, I can honestly say that for me and the vast majority of my friends, we are really, really sick of Chihuly and his replicants. I frankly have never liked his repetitive, garish, how-can-I-torture-glass-further approach; his stuff always looks like some poor prehistoric sea urchins hauled unwillingly from some toxic lake. And the listless blowjobs he regularly receives from the press don't do much to endear me either. I don't have a problem with art becoming mainstreamed, honestly; I just don't think Dale is worth the hoopla.
posted by Skot at 9:41 AM on August 24, 2001

Forget if they have any Chihuly, but the Corning Museum of Glass is pretty neat too. Quite a lot of historical stuff there, a ton of Venetian and other European glassworks...and IIRC didn't Chihuly work with the Venetian glassblowers a while ago? Anyway, CMOG is pretty neat, so if you're in upstate New York, take a day and visit.
posted by PeteyStock at 1:08 PM on August 24, 2001

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