Born in 1941 in Tacoma, Washington, Dale Chihuly was introduced to glass while studying interior design at the University of Washington. After graduating in 1965, Chihuly enrolled in the first glass program in the country, at the University of Wisconsin. He continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he later established the glass program and taught for more than a decade.

In 1968, after receiving a Fulbright Fellowship, he went to work at the Venini glass factory in Venice. There he observed the team approach to blowing glass, which is critical to the way he works today. In 1971, Chihuly cofounded Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State. With this international glass center, Chihuly has led the avant-garde in the development of glass as a fine art.

His work is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide. He has been the recipient of many awards, including twelve honorary doctorates and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Chihuly has created more than a dozen well-known series of works, among them, Cylinders and Baskets in the 1970s; SeaformsMacchiaVenetians, and Persians in the 1980s; Niijima Floats and Chandeliers in the 1990s; and Fiori in the 2000s. He is also celebrated for large architectural installations. In 1986, he was honored with a solo exhibition, Dale Chihuly objets de verre, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais du Louvre, in Paris. In 1995, he began Chihuly Over Venice, for which he created sculptures at glass factories in Finland, Ireland, and Mexico, then installed them over the canals and piazzas of Venice.

In 1999, Chihuly started an ambitious exhibition, Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem; more than 1 million visitors attended the Tower of David Museum to view his installations. In 2001, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London curated the exhibition Chihuly at the V&A. Chihuly’s lifelong fascination for glasshouses has grown into a series of exhibitions within botanical settings. His Garden Cycle began in 2001 at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. Chihuly exhibited at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, near London, in 2005. Other major exhibition venues include the de Young Museum in San Francisco, in 2008; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 2011; and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 2013. Chihuly Garden and Glass, a long-term exhibition, opened at Seattle Center in 2012.

LuEsther T. Mertz Library

Fire Orange Baskets, Opaline and Rose Quartz Seaforms, Palazzo Ducale Tower, The Art Gallery

Chihuly began the Seaform series in the 1980’s. Here, Opaline and Rose Quartz Seaformsrepresent a combination of the decorative techniques of the Venetian style of glass blowing paired with the spontaneous asymmetry which Chihuly is known for. Even though Chihuly, himself inspired by the sea, named these Seaforms, it is difficult to identify specific sea creatures.

After seeing a collection of Native American woven baskets, Chihuly was inspired to create these similar forms, Fire Orange Baskets, in glass. He was able to emulate the grace of the slumped, sagging forms by heating the glass and allowing gravity to take over. Like the Native American baskets, each Orange Basket is unique.

Dale Chihuly’s early works in glass are an exploration of the vessel, the form associated with traditional glassblowing, as he experimented with new shapes, colors, and textures. The biomorphic Seaforms, exquisitely patterned Macchia, and vividly colored Baskets andCylinders of the 1980s pushed the limits of studio glass and edged Chihuly toward his later expansion of glass art in ever-changing sculptural forms.

Palazzo Ducale Tower, a signature installation from the monumental undertaking Chihuly Over Venice (1995-96), is one of the artist’s earliest towers. In its original iteration the Tower was intended to interact with the classical architecture of the Doge’s Palace in Venice, the traditional site of lavish exhibitions of artistry in Venice, arguably the world capital of glassmaking.

Macchia Forest

Chihuly developed his Macchia series from a desire to push the boundaries of glass as an expression of form and light. During the 1980s the artist experimented with several vessel-like forms, employing new techniques to achieve unusual shapes and color combinations. His desire to employ every color available to him led Chihuly to develop a technique of layering color over a thin layer of white to prevent the vibrant hues from bleeding into one another. He also adopted the practice of fusing colored glass chips to the outer surface of the vessel creating a spotted affect and inspiring the series name, Macchia, which means “spotted” in Italian. Chihuly has often cited his memories of his mother’s lush flower garden as an important inspiration for his color explorations.

Red Reeds on Logs

Red Reeds on Logs comprises wood logs collected from the grounds of The New York Botanical Garden and dozens of blown glass reeds.  Displayed in groups, the reeds appear as plants in the landscape, standing out in bright red against the green backdrop of the Garden landscape. The slender forms of the tall reeds also contrast with the irregular forms of the logs from which they appear to emerge.

White Belugas

The monochromatic White Belugas appear to grow from the garden bed. The installation combines artwork originally created in Vianne, France in 1997 with newer work blown in Chihuly’s hot shop in Seattle in 2014.

Scarlet and Yellow Icicle Tower

As part of the collaborative process in the studio, Chihuly and his team combines forms of varying colors, shapes, and sizes into his Chandeliers and Towers. Through trial and error, experimental combinations are constructed, deconstructed and adjusted to achieve new effects. Here, Chihuly explores yet another permutations of color and form. Inspired by the frigid temperatures in the Pacific Northwest, the icicle forms are placed onto the tower structure.  Yet the icicle, when created in scarlet and yellow, reflects light and emulates a flame.

Music Program

The NYBG Summer Concert Series: JAZZ & CHIHULY will showcase today’s dynamic jazz talent and spectacularly illuminated works by world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly. With The New York Botanical Garden’s glass-domed Conservatory as its backdrop, three themed nights will be presented in this innovative series developed in collaboration with Catskill Jazz Factory and Absolutely Live Entertainment. The series starts on June 16 with The French Connection, featuring an ensemble led by trumpeter Alphonso Horne and Parisian vocal sensation Camille Bertault. An all-star ensemble led by trombonist Chris Washburne and pianist André Mehmari takes the stage on July 14 for Celebrating 100 Years of Jazz. The series concludes on August 18 with Songs of Protest & Reconciliation led by and starring pianist Damien Sneed joined by trumpeter Keyon Harrold.

Before and after each concert, stroll among the CHIHULY exhibition artworks, glistening at dusk and mesmerizing when lit after sunset. Doors open at 6 p.m.; the concert runs from 7–8:30 p.m.; and CHIHULY viewing continues from 8:30–10:30 p.m.

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