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.

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.


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

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


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


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


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.


CC said...

WOW!! Thanks for sharing!


Kala said...

Fantastic light in this wonderful array of images!

EG CameraGirl said...

Lucky you to have seen this in person. I'm quite surprised at how well the saffron-colured sculpture fit into it's location!

Ginnie said...

Now that we've seen Mart Martorell's glass blowing exhibition, DB, I can just imagine what it would be like to see THIS exhibition. Astrid would be in heaven. She really has something with both wood and glass. I can see why.

I love how you have shared this magnificent artist.

rochambeau said...

Chihuly and the men who assist him are geniuses! I have had the opportunity two times to see his sculpture and it literally takes my breath away!
Hope you are have a good start to the week!


rochambeau said...

Thank you for finding and sharing your fantastic photographs, Dutchbaby!

Ruth said...

Oh my. The beauty of color, light, form, composition, and ingenuity are only matched by the patient's and perseverance it must have taken him and his crew to create these exhibits. Your photos are fabulous! Thank you for sharing the links as well. Absolutely stunning!

Ruth said...

Sorry for the typo, that was supposed to be “patient.” :-)

My Dragon pulled on his lease a bit.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing this exhibit! You know I love his work, and we have our own exhibits here in Columbus, which I would love you to see with me someday. They aren't quite as dramatic as some of these pieces, but lovely all the same.

Still hoping to get to San Fran one of these days. :)

Marilyn Miller said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! Love Chihuly glass and Pendleton blankets too. Thanks for sharing this beautiful exhibit.

Lisa Gordon said...

I could not have even imagined something so beautiful.
Thank you so much for sharing this here!!

Marja said...

What a great collection My favourites are "the persians and the colourful blankets. Just fantastic.
BTW what I all the time wanted to ask Do you have a dutch background or does the name dutchbaby refer to the tulips?

Relyn Lawson said...

Hey you. Guess what surprise package arrived at my house early this week. I should have said thanks before now, but I have been so sick. I do apologize for the delay. Thank you so much. You are a dear friend.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear CC,
My pleasure!

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Kala,
Yes, I did not mention how well-lit this exhibit was. Thanks for pointing it out.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear EG Wow,
Yes it is surprising, but now I can't walk by the pool without wishing that the saffron tower was still there. It was the perfect complement to the space.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Ginnie,

I'm sure you and Astrid would love to see these installations. What is difficult to convey is the large scale of these pieces. It's an amazing feeling to be surrounded by all this magnificence.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Constance at Rochambeau,
Since you have seen Chihulys in person, you know that these pictures don't do this exhibit justice. I'm glad you enjoyed this post.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Ruth,
Chihuly and his team are indeed highly talented. They truly push the envelope of the art.

Don't worry about any typos your speech recognition Dragon may unleash. I understand. Did you know that it is the Year of the Dragon this year?

Congratulations on becoming a grandma for the first time!

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Susan,
I am so happy to be able to share this images with you. I would love to see more Chihulys with you - either here or in Ohio!

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Marilyn,
Those Pendletons were gorgeous. Chihuly started collecting them when he couldn't afford to collect Navajo rugs.

You may be interested to know that Director John E. Buchanan, Jr., who curated this event, used to be the director of the Portland Art Museum. It's a shame that he passed away at such a young age.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear lisa,
I was amazed at the breadth of Chihuly's talent. Thanks for your visit.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Marja,
It was wonderful to be able to see those Pendleton blankets up close. Each and every blanket was graphic wonder.

My mother is half Dutch and I lived in Amsterdam between the ages of 6 and 12.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Relyn,
I hope you are on the mend very, very soon!

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