Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chihuly at the de Young Museum

I had an opportunity to go see the large retrospective show of glass by Dale Chihuly, at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. This is one of the largest shows he's ever had, and it's diversity was both glorious and a little overwhelming.

They allowed the public to take non-flash photos, so given such license I went a little nuts and shot a lot; sometimes i got into closeups, lit from behind or overhead, just an abstract array of colors. I have always liked his work, both for its originality of form and amazing color, but also because it's just different. One of my best artist friends did glassblowing, and so I'm not unfamiliar with technique and what can be done with it. Chihuly has pushed the envelope a long way beyond where it used to lie. His forms inspired by organic and natural forms, never really seen before in art glass, are often stunning, even mind-blowing. You can sometimes tell from an artist's work that they have had an experience of cosmic consciousness, or some kind of peak experience—you can feel it in their work, if you've had similar experiences, because there is a recognizable quality present—and I feel that way about Chihuly, I feel that in his work. It opens the mind and heart to new possibilities that you never thought of before.

So, here are some photos from the exhibition, in all their amazing and glorious color.

To me, the most impressive and illuminating aspect of this show was the drawings that are included. Drawings in acrylic and multimedia, actually they're full-blown paintings that often serve as sketches for the glass pieces to follow. They're the inspirations and maps.

But they're also amazing work in their own right. In the exhibition there were two rooms with a full each of the drawings, mounted in groups as though they stained glass windows onto something beyond the room. The lines and forms and colors in the paintings captivated me even beyond what the glass was capable of. I was fascinated, and spent a long time in front of each wall of drawings.

Another favorite was the room with all the glass overhead, through a transparent ceiling, lit from behind. There were lots of seaforms but also some whimsical touches mixed in, so the overall feel was like being underwater and happy about it.

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