An exhibition of sensational glass creations by world-renowned American artist Dale Chihuly, was on display in the Groninger Museum. Comprising 16 installations, the exhibition providds a comprehensive overview of the artist’s body of work. It was specially curated for the museum, in partnership with the Seattle-based Chihuly Studio, and was the artist’s largest European museum show in the last 20 years. Showing work created throughout Chihuly’s five-decade career in both indoor and outdoor settings. Highlights of the multi-media exhibition included the artist’s most recent works, Rotolo and Glass on Glass, along with his innovative Baskets, dramatic installations of Neon, Fiori and Icicles, and demonstrations of creative communication-style.
About Dale Chihuly
Dale Chihuly (b. 1941, Tacoma, Washington) is known for revolutionizing the studio glass movement and elevating perceptions of glass. Over his 50-year career, he has become known for his iconic sculptures in glass, a medium that appeals to him because it is one of the few materials that transmits light. Durable yet fragile and breakable, glass continues to challenge Chihuly as he keeps pushing the material’s boundaries with regard to shape and scale. Glass, however, is just one of the mediums he employs to realise his vision: he also draws and paints and has created large-scale installations with materials including neon, ice, and Polyvitro – a plastic material with similar visual properties to glass.
Do it yourself!
Works were not only on view inside, but outside the Groninger Museum building as well. Two works were displayed outdoors: Red Reeds (2010), containing stalks stretching up to three meters high that are composed of red glass blown in Finland, and Neon 206 (2017), glass tubes in angular forms that were filled with neon and argon gasses and charged with electricity.
The exhibition also contained works from series such as Venetians (1988-2006), a fusion of American exuberance and Italian bravura in glass; Cylinders (2006-2016), glass works adorned with intricate glass-thread drawings inspired and accompanied by Chihuly’s collection of Native American textiles; and Rotolo (2015-2018), one of Chihuly’s most technically challenging series consisting of sculptures of which the heaviest in the exhibition contains 43 kilos of glass.
Special design for Groninger Museum
Furthermore, CHIHULY presented a new installation specially designed for the exhibition in the Groninger Museum: Grand Stairwell Installation (2018). It included the largest Persians – a series of irregularly shaped and boldly coloured forms – ever made: 1.4 meters in diameter.
CHIHULY not only gave an overview of the artist’s impressive oeuvre, but offered insight into his creative process and communication style too. The exhibition for example included Fax Wall: an installation consisting of letters written by the artist that were originally shared with his team via facsimile machines. Rarely seen in public, the faxes contained personal messages, artwork sketches, plans for exhibitions, installations, and more.
The exhibition at the Groninger Museum also had a royal touch. In 1997, then US president Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary visited The Hague to celebrate the 50th jubilee of the Marshall Plan. On this occasion, Bill Clinton presented then Queen of the Netherlands Beatrix with a special gift: Bottle Green Seaform with Marigold Lip Wrap (1997), made by Dale Chihuly. This green, wavy, shell-shaped sculpture is part of the Royal Collections of the Netherlands in The Hague and was the only non-American loan in the exhibition. Other works from the Seaform series – sculptures that evoke sea life – were displayed as well.
Chihuly is known for his ambitious architectural installations around the world, in historic cities, museums, and gardens. His work is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide, at institutions including Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., and Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. Major exhibitions include Chihuly Over Venice (1995–1996), Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem (1999), and shows at de Young Museum in San Francisco (2008); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2011); Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (2012); Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (2013); Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto (2016); and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas (2017). In addition, Chihuly Garden and Glass, a long-term exhibition located at the Seattle Center, opened in 2012.