The Chihuly Garden and Glass is an exhibition (in a combination of a museum building and an outdoor garden directly next door to, and underneath, the Seattle Space Needle in Seattle Center in the heart of the city) that explores the inspiration and influences of Northwest artist Dale Chihuly. Dale Chihuly is considered one of the most innovative and iconic figures in contemporary art. Chihuly has been working with glass as an artistic medium for over fifty years, to increasing critical and popular acclaim. His work is in the permanent collections of more than 200 museums worldwide.
A true Northwesterner, Chihuly has pioneered new techniques in art and influenced generations of artists. His creativity and generosity of spirit led him to be invited by Space Needle LLC to help create the exhibition at Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle Center, Seattle, Washington. The exhibition includes both indoor and outdoor spaces and a new Glasshouse. Chihuly Garden and Glass brings together all the elements of Chihuly’s work, including drawings, signature glass series, large architectural installations, and personal collections. The artwork in the exhibition reveals how Dale Chihuly has pushed the boundaries of glass as an art medium in concept, execution and presentation. A walk through the Galleries, the Garden and into the Glasshouse is an immersive experience that sparks wonder and inspiration.
Dale Chihuly began the Macchia series in 1981 with the desire to use all 300 colors available to him in the hotshop, and named it such after asking his friend Italo Scanga (who he befriended as a visiting professor at the Rhode Island School of Design when he was a graduate student) the word for “spot” in Italian. Thinking about the colors and intensity of stained glass windows, Chihuly realized that the glass panes looked more clear and vibrant against a cloudy sky than a blue one. This idea inspired his experimentation to separate the interior and exterior colors by adding a white layer in between, a “cloud”, and as he mastered the technical complexities, pushed the scale up to four feet in diameter. Each work is speckled with color, which comes from rolling the molten glass in small shards of colored glass during the blowing process. To complete the piece, he adds a lip wrap of a contrasting color.
The Glasshouse is the centerpiece of Chihuly Garden and Glass. Throughout his career, Chihuly dreamed of working on the design for a glasshouse and the artwork within it. This is the first opportunity he has had to realize that dream. The design draws inspiration from two of his favorite buildings: Sainte-Chapelle in Paris and the Crystal Palace in London. Chihuly signed a bean during the dedication ceremony at Chihuly Garden and Glass on 21 May 2012. The Glasshouse Sculpture is an expansive 100-foot-long (32 meters) installation in a palette of reds, oranges, yellows and amber. Made of many individual elements, it is one of Chihuly’s largest suspended sculptures. Chihuly calls the intensely colored blown-glass forms of this monumental work Persians. The perception of the artwork varies greatly with natural light and as the day fades into night.
“I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in a way they have never experienced.” – Dale Chihuly about Chihuly Garden and Glass
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