Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Is It Art or Is It Craft


“I’m as interested in the way my art works is a public space as in the art itself.”
Dale Chihuly

From “like daily deliveries of unwanted flowers after a regretted one-night transgression” (Sebastian Smee, Boston Globe) toinfuses space with a different kind of quality, everything glistens and moves and swirls. Nothing is left static” (Rachel Holmes, The Metropolist), Dale Chihuly’s art confronts the status quo.

 The troubled rabble rousing youth who found direction and meaning on an Israeli kibbutz and along the way fell in love with Europe’s stained glass windows, Chihuly, built on Comfort Tiffney’s best efforts, taking glass from the night stand to the foyer of London’s prestigious Victoria and Albert Museum.  

How his work sits within the art world is of little concern to Chihuly, as he told the Telegraph newspaper’s Sheryl Garratt, “I don’t even answer that, usually. Is it art or is it craft? I say if it’s good, it’s an art. The best of everything is an art."

Chihuly’s career as a hand’s on glass blower was cut short by a traffic accident that saw him loose the sight in his left eye along with his peripheral vision, an essential attribute for his team glass blowing practice.  A dislocated shoulder a couple of years later cemented his sideline stature, But as he has said "Once I stepped back, I liked the view, more choreographer than dancer, more supervisor than participant, more director than actor." And as he told Timothy Anglin Burgard in 2008 “But there's also the thrill of figuring out a new piece or installation and coming up with new ideas. The vocabulary is there, but what I do with it continues to change."

Amongst these changes was the moving of the exhibition of his glass sculptures out from the confines of the white cube into the public space in general and gardens in particular. From Seattle’s Chihuly Garden and Glass to London’s Kew Gardens, from Denver’s Botanic Gardens to Chrysler Museum of Art’s Memorial Garden, Chihuly has installed his glass works to mostly popular appeal especially in the dramatic artificial light of evening.

But for Chihuly it is still all about the glass. As he has said “The technology hasn’t really changed...We use the same tools they used 2,000 years ago. The difference is that when I started, everyone wanted to control the blowing process. I just went with it. The natural elements of fire, movement, gravity, and centrifugal force were always there, and are always with us. The difference was that I worked in this abstract way and could let the forces of nature have a bigger role in the ultimate shape.

His current exhibition Chihuly in the Garden is currently on show at The Chrysler Museum of Art until the 7th of June.


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