Dale Chihuly (born September 20, 1941), is an American glass sculptor and entrepreneur. His works are considered unique to the field of blown glass, "moving it into the realm of large-scale sculpture," (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). The technical difficulties of working with glass forms are considerable, yet Chihuly uses it as the primary medium for installations and environmental artwork.
In the year 1967, he received a Master of Science in sculpture from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he studied under Harvey Littleton. In 1968, he studied glass in Venice on a Fulbright Fellowship and received a Master of Fine Arts at the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1971, with the support of John Hauberg and Anne Gould Hauberg, Chihuly cofounded the Pilchuck Glass School near Stanwood, Washington. In 1976, while Chihuly was in England, he was involved in a head-on car accident during which he flew through the windshield. His face was severely cut by glass and he was blinded in his left eye. After recovering, he continued to blow glass until he dislocated his right shoulder in a 1979 bodysurfing accident. No longer able to hold the glass blowing pipe, he hired others to do the work. Chihuly explained the change in a 2006 interview, saying "Once I stepped back, I liked the view" and pointed out that it allowed him to see the work from more perspectives and enabled him to anticipate problems faster. Chihuly describes his role as "more choreographer than dancer, more supervisor than participant, more director than actor." San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Erin Glass wrote that she "wonders at the vision of not just the artist Chihuly, but the wildly successful entrepreneur Chihuly, whose estimated sales by 2004 was reported by The Seattle Times as $29 million." Chihuly and his team of artists were the subjects of the documentaryChihuly Over Venice. They were also featured in the documentary Chihuly in the Hotshop, syndicated to public television stations by American Public Television starting on November 1, 2008.
About his work
Regina Hackett, as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer art critic, provided a chronology of his work during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s:
1975: Navajo Blanket Series, in which patterns of Navajo blankets were painted onto glass
1977: Northwest Coast Basket Series, baskets inspired by Northwest coast Indian baskets he'd seen as a child
1980: Seaform Series, transparent sculptures of thin glass, strengthened by ribbed strands of color
1981: Macchia Series, featuring every color available in the studio
1986: Persian Series, inspired by Middle East glass from the 12th- to 14th-century, featuring more restrained color and room-sized installations
1988: Venetian Series, improvisations based on Italian Art Deco
1989: Ikebana Series, glass flower arrangements inspired by ikebana
1990: Venetian Series returns, this time in a more eccentric form
1991: Niijima Floats, six-foot spheres of intricate color inspired by Japanese glass fishing floats from the island of Niijima from Chihuly's website
1992: Chandeliers, starting modestly but by the middle of the decade involving a ton of glass orbs and shapes that in some works look like flowers, others like breasts, and still others like snakes Chihuly has also produced a sizable volume of "Irish cylinders", which are more modest in conception than his blown glass works.
For his exhibition in Jerusalem in 2000, in addition to the glass pieces, he had enormous blocks of transparent ice brought in from an Alaskan artesian well and formed a wall, echoing the stones of the nearby Citadel. Lights with color gels were set up behind them for illumination. Chihuly said the melting wall represented the "dissolution of barriers" between people.
Chihuly's largest permanent exhibit can be found at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Chihuly maintains two retail stores in partnership with MGM Resorts International. One is located at the Bellagio on the Las Vegas Strip, from the Bellagio hotel/casino website the other at the MGM Grand Casino in Macau. A number of other galleries also carry his pieces. He also has a gallery in Las Vegas in the Crystals in the Las Vegas City Center in Gallery Row. In 1983 Chihuly returned to his native Pacific Northwest where he continued to develop his own work at the Pilchuck Glass School, which he had helped to found in 1971. Throughout the 1970s, influenced by the great glassblowing tradition of Murano, Chihuly experimented with the team approach to glassblowing. Working with a team of master glassblowers and assistants has enabled him to produce architectural glass art of a scale and quantity unimaginable working alone or with only one assistant. In 2010 the Space Needle Corporation submitted a proposal for an exhibition of Chihuly's work at a site in the Seattle Center, in competition with proposals for other uses from several other groups. The project, which sees the new Chihuly exhibition hall occupy the site of the former Fun Forest amusement park in the Seattle Center park and entertainment complex, received the final green light from the Seattle City Council on April 25, 2011. It opened May 21, 2012.
In 2006, Chihuly filed a lawsuit against his former longtime employee, glassblower Bryan Rubino, and businessman Robert Kaindl, under accusations of copyright and trademark infringement. Kaindl's pieces used titles Chihuly used for his own works, such as Seaforms and Ikebana, and resembled the construction of Chihuly's pieces. Arguments made by legal experts stated influence on art style is not copyright infringement. Chihuly settled the lawsuit independently with Rubino initially, and later Kaindl as well.