Friday, January 13, 2012

Dale Chihuly at the De Young Museum

DSC02618 Dale Chihuly - Saffron Tower


After I watched "Chihuly: Fire & Light" on PBS last week, I was inspired to dip into my photo archives to find the photos I took during the "Chihuly at the de Young" exhibit in the summer of 2008. 

Director John E. Buchanan Jr. expertly lured Dale Chihuly to come to San Francisco. He leveraged the excitement of the shiny new De Young Museum building and promised an astonishing 12,000 square feet of gallery space to showcase four decades of Chihuly’s illustrious career as a glass artist. The crowning glory was Buchanan’s sweeping gesture of granting full artistic license, which sparked Chihuly and his team of world-class glassblowers to create new pieces for this exhibit. The 400,000 visitors that viewed the show are a testament to the genius of this magical collaboration.
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I still miss the 30-foot saffron neon sculpture that stood proudly in the Pool of Enchantment during the show. It was spectacular during the day and at night.

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Glass Forest #3 is one of the earliest pieces and has not been viewed in the US since 1972 [1]. This installment represents Chihuly’s early experiments with neon. The milk glass gives the appearance that the long tubes are white hot.

DSC02231 Dale Chihuly - Glass Forest #3
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My son’s favorite of the entire collection is Neodymium Reeds on Logs, 2004 with larger-than-life reeds rising dramatically like stalagmites from birch logs. The violet neon continues the soothing cave-like atmosphere. See the full scale of the installation here.

I made the first Reeds in 1995 at the Hackman factory, a small glassblowing shop in Nuutajarvi,k Finland. Unlike other factories, the Hackman facility had very high ceilings, which inspired me to make these elongated forms.[2]
--Dale Chihuly

DSC02241  Dale Chihuly

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Persian Wall, 2008 is a grand installation made especially for the De Young Museum.
The Persians – that’s one of the most difficult series to describe. It started off that they were geometric shapes. I think it was a search for new forms. We worked for a year doing only experimental Persians – at least a thousand or more...

DSC02238  Dale Chihuly


Sometimes the Persians became very Seaform-like...


DSC02239  Dale Chihuly


DSC02236  Dale Chihuly

...or they became very geometric. [2]
          --Dale Chihuly

DSC02237  Dale Chihuly

 See an image of the full wall here


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The Tabac Basket Room ’s dark lighting evoked the feeling of stepping into a smoke-filled teepee. Pendleton trade blankets covered one wall...

DSC02638 Dale Chihuly

… and woven Indian baskets and their glass counterparts glowed on the opposite wall.

DSC02636 Dale Chihuly

The center of the room showcased the pieces that retained the same organic palette and feeling...

DSC02639 Dale Chihuly


...yet transcended the original basket shapes.


DSC02640 Dale Chihuly

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Though he has been creating cylinders for over thirty years, Chihuly hadn’t created any in black until the De Young exhibit.

DSC02261  Dale Chihuly

Drawing inspiration from his extensive trade blanket collection, Chihuly “painted” woven images by fusing glass rods onto the cylindrical forms…

DSC02260  Dale Chihuly

… which appear to glow against the black "canvas" and their bright interiors.

DSC02258  Dale Chihuly


More on this show later.


[1] San Francisco Sentinel
[2] Chihuly, Dale. Chihuly: 365 Days. New York: Abrams, 2008. Print.
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