Art and Antiques

Chihuly Chandeliers by Dale Chihuly

Britney Scott / July 4, 2013

Dale Chihuly is the genius behind the most famous and unique Chihuly Chandeliers that are marvels made out of blown glass.  Chihuly was born in 1941 in Tacoma, Washington.  His first brush with glass was when he was studying interior design at the University of Washington in 1965.  He later studied glass blowing with Harvey Littleton whilst pursuing his M.S. in sculpture from the University of Wisconsin.  He later founded the Glass Department at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1969 and he remained there as a professor until 1983.

After 1983, Chihuly decided to hone his own glasswork skills as he had been extremely inspired by the skilled artisans of Murano and their glassblowing tradition.  Chihuly decided to do something different and tread the path that no one had walked so he experimented with a lot of techniques along with his team of assistants and master glassblowers.

This experimentation helped him to innovate and create an unimaginable architectural-level craft of such a magnitude either by himself or with the help of an assistant.

However, his new found success with glass blowing and his passion to discover and create something new was halted for a while when Chihuly lost his vision in his left eye owing to a car accident in 1976.  Because of this injury, he renounced his position as the gaffer and gave it to the next capable man- William Morris.

Over the course of the coming years, Chihuly came up with the Macchia series as well as the Seaform and Soft Cylinder series which were widely acclaimed for their unique designs and exceptional craft.  Then in 1988, he started working on the detailed Venetian series with Lino Tagliapietra, master Italian glassblower, as his gaffer.

During the 90s, Chihuly focused more on significant architectural glass art work such as three-dimensional art glass Chandeliers that were internationally acclaimed in 1996.  Upon the completion of Chihuly’s ambitious large-scale project ‘Chihuly Over Venice’ that spanned two years, fourteen of his chandelier creations were hung at various places in Venice.  There was a very fascinating video that was put together by PBS which showed the entire procedure of the making of the chandeliers all the way to how they were installed in Venice.

Chihuly has been putting up various exhibitions at major international venues.  A mesmerizing Chihuly Chandelier has been installed in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London ever since Chihuly’s exhibition that took place there in 2001.  Dale Chihuly has been the connoisseur of fine glasswork and is recognized as one of the leading glass artists in the world.  His glass sculptures are found in more than 10 major museums around the world and his glass art can be seen at the various Holsten Galleries.

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