Dale Chihuly at Marlborough
By Edward Leffingwell (brief article), ART IN AMERICADale Chihuly, who in most respects seems to deny himself little in the service of his work, awarded descriptive titles of uncharacteristic restraint to his new specimen objects. At the far end of the long axis of a familiar viewing space transformed by its presence, the serpentine locks of “Gilded Silver and Aquamarine Chandelier” (2000) hovered, a baroque and radiant Medusa of a light fixture. Mesmerizing and large at 8 by 7 feet or so, the multipart lamp illuminated the darkened space around it like a beacon. The elegant, opulent and precisely achieved form spiraled out and down, the gilded-silver and ice-blue halations of its title, like frost on a windowpane, adding luster to its surface while also suggesting the transformations of molten glass. On Chihuly’s terms, such singular works are perfect things with nothing extraneous and nothing left unsaid. Chihuly introduced the category of chandelier to his vocabulary of work in 1992, and in the following year he added the figurative forms of putti to elaborate vessels in celebration of his ongoing projects in Venice, one of the world’s glass-producing centers. These cherubic forms reappear in the ornamentation of “Citron Green Chandelier with Putti” (2000). In “Yellow Hornet Chandelier with Cobalt Blue Ikebana” (2001), the stems of graceful floral elements curve downward from a bonnet of more than 350 of the brilliant, reflective and variously translucent spiral forms that suggest the hornets of its title. Nearly 10 feet high, the vibrant pile of “Red Mexican Hat Tower” (2000) presented a mass of shapes that resembled an accumulation of floral spathes. Like his chandeliers, Chihuly”s tower was strategically illuminated, shadows contributing to its effects.
A series of elaborate vessels expressed the spare, luxe arrangements of the “Ikebana” series, each vase containing graceful stems ending in blossom shapes, leaves and the uterine forms of rose hips and poppy pods. At the entrance to the gallery, “Seaflower Installation” (2001) recalled Chihuly’s history of marine forms, his familiar arrangements of blown shells, urchins and anemones replaced here by opalescent, pale blue and palest pink trumpets of intersecting flowers. With the choreography necessary to complex glass-blowing projects, Chihuly and a crew of 10 produced the vessels of the “Jerusalem Cylinder” series, forms bright with the festive look of colored highball glasses; pure crystalline chunks of glass like ice are fused to the cylinder walls so that they seem to tumble within or float in the air outside them. Finally, bridging his ideas and their articulation in glass, Chihuly added vivid selections from an inventory of acrylic drawings through which he explores and communicates a constantly expanding range of forms and techniques.
Copyright 1999 Brant Publications, Inc.
Copyright 2000 Gale Group