Dale Chihuly

 

Artists Biography


On one level, Dale Chihuly can be lauded for moving the Studio Glass movement from its original premise of the solitary artist working in a studio environment to embracing the more established modus operandus within the art world of collaborative endeavors and a division of labor within the creative process. However, Chihuly's contribution to the field extends well beyond this. His practice of putting together teams of artists with exceptional glassblowing skills has led to the development of complex, multipart sculptures of dramatic beauty and scale that place him in the leadership role of moving blown glass out of the confines of the small, precious object and into the realm of large-scale sculpture and environmental art. In fact, Chihuly deserves much of the credit for establishing the blown glass form as an accepted medium for installation art and, hence, for contemporary expression in late twentieth and twenty-first century art generally.

A prodigiously prolific artist whose work balances content with an investigation of the material's properties of translucency and transparency, Chihuly began working with glass at a time when reverence for the medium and for technique was paramount. A student of interior design and architectur in the early 1960s, by 1965 he had become captivated by the process of glassblowing. He enrolled in the University of Wisconsin's hot glass program, the first of its kind in the United States, established by Studio Glass movement founder Harvey K. Littleton. While the literature has always attributed Chihuly’s interest in employing teams of glassblowers to a three-week visit to the Venini glass factory in Murano in 1968, it is now believed that his first collaborations date from his days in Madison where he worked with fellow graduate student and second generation Studio Glass artist Fritz Dreisbach. After receiving a degree in sculpture, Chihuly was admitted to the ceramics program at the Rhode Island School of Design, only to establish its renowned glass program, turning out a generation of recognized artists.

Influenced by an environment that fostered the blurring of boundaries separating all the arts, as early as 1967 Chihuly was using neon, argon, and blown glass forms to create room-sized installations of organic, freestanding, plantlike imagery. He brought this interdisciplinary approach to the arts to the legendary Pilchuck School in Stanwood, Washington, which he co founded in 1971 and served as its first artistic director until 1989. Under Chihuly's guidance, Pilchuck has become a gathering place for international artists with diverse backgrounds. Over the years his studios, which include an old racing shell factory in Seattle called The Boathouse and now buildings in the Ballard section of the city and Tacoma, have become a Mecca for artists, collectors, and museum professionals involved in all media. Beyond being working environments, they house the diverse and massive collections ranging from Pendleton blankets to chalk ware figurines that in their quantities as well as formal qualities may have provided additional inspiration to the artist over time.

Dale Chihuly



White Venetian

blown glass
32 x 13 x 13 inches
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