Born in Tacoma in 1941, Chihuly is regarded as the "Tiffany" of our day and has been exploring the plastic potential of blown glass for over fifty years. With fire, gravity, breath and centrifugal force, this accomplished master plays with colours, reflections and organic forms, using repetition, accumulation and layering arrangements of modular and singular elements to create unparalleled rhythms and visual effects.
I’m obsessed with colour – never saw one i didn’t like
Considering the large number of visitors for the exhibition CHIHULY, the Museum opening hours have been extended.
The MMFA present as a Canadian exclusive the artwork of the American artist Dale Chihuly.
An immersive, astounding and grandiose visual experience, this exhibition – the first major Dale Chihuly show to be presented in Canada – is organized by the MMFA in partnership with the Chihuly Studio. The SAQ and its "Adding Value to Glass" programme is the exhibition's presenting sponsor in Montreal in collaboration with the Museum’s Volunteer Association.
An acknowledged master of site-specific installation, Chihuly visited the various galleries of the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion to create a unique layout. It consists of eight immersive environments, four of them designed specifically for the Museum.
In the city’s public space on Sherbrooke Street, Chihuly summons us with a monumental work entitled The Sun. This installation forms a round tower over four metres in diameter emitting rays composed of tendrils in primary colours: two shades of yellow with elements of blue and red.
Dale Chihuly, The Sun, 2013, 4,3 x 4,3 x 4,3 m, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, prêt de l’artiste. Photo : Annie-Ève Dumontier
The immersive tour begins with a vast idyllic forest of Turquoise Reeds, 199 of spear-shaped forms springing from the trunks of salvaged old- growth western red cedar. This dramatic installation offers striking contrasts between the various colours, densities and textures of the materials used.
Dale Chihuly, Turquoise Reeds, 2012, Height : 3 m, Richmond, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Photo Scott M. Leen
Chihuly decided to aborn the peristyle colonnade at the top of the Hornstein Pavilion’s majestic staircase. This monumental Persian Colonnade takes us into the artist’s colourful world of flowers.
Dale Chihuly, Persian Colonnade (detail), 2008, 4,5 x 15,2 m, San Francisco, de Young Museum. Photo Terry Rishel
Persian Ceiling is one of Chihuly’s most popular works. It consists of various series of works in a multitude of shapes, forms and vivid colours arranged in layers over plates of transparent glass. Subtly lit, the Ceiling creates a kaleidoscopic effect of infinite repetition, suggesting the magical space of a Persian carpet. Note that you should perhaps lie down on the floor to fully appreciate its beauty!
Dale Chihuly, Persian Ceiling, 2008, 4,5 x 8,5 m, San Francisco, de Young Museum. Photo Teresa Nouri Rishel
Hanging or reaching for the sky, the series of Chandeliers and Tower with their bristling contours are achievements in formal terms, combining blown glass with steel frameworks each weighing several hundred kilograms. Their configurations complement each other, resembling stalagmites and stalactites in caves.
TheRuby Pineapple, a lost chandelier made anew for the MMFA!
In 1997, Chihuly was invited to the city of Vianne, France, to work hand in hand with the local factory’s team of glassblowers: "We worked for about ten days and towards the end, we realized that we had made one of my most remarkable Chandeliers. First of all I looked at all the interesting moulds used in the workshop for making lampshades. After choosing a superb pineapple-shaped mould, I thought I would use it to create something I had never attempted in the thirty-five years of my career." When the work was finished, all the pieces of glass were packed into two 12-metre square containers to be shipped to Seattle. Unfortunately, when the ship was hit by a storm in mid-Atlantic, one of the containers fell overboard, taking the work with it: "My superb pineapple-shaped Chandelier was lost for ever. Fifteen years later, when I was preparing my exhibition for the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, I decided that it would be the ideal opportunity to re-create the lost Chandelier, the Red Pineapple", says the artist.
Dale Chihuly, Chandeliers and Tower (detail), 1997, 1,8 x 1,2 x 1,2 m, Vianne, France. Photo Ansgard Kaliss
Since his early childhood, Chihuly has loved flowers, a passion he attributes to his mother’s delight in gardening and gardens. The Museum’s Mille Fiori, mounted on an imposing low plinth, stands some two and a half metres high and may be viewed from numerous angles. With its arrangements of irregular shapes and sumptuous colours, this installation looks like an enchanted garden.
Dale Chihuly, Mille Fiori (detail), 2012, 3 x 17,7 x 3,7 m, Seattle, Chihuly Garden and Glass. Photo Scott M. Leen
The Boats The Boats, which look like horns of plenty, were added to Chihuly’s repertory of installations in 1995, when the artist and his team were in Finland making the chandeliers for the show Chihuly over Venice. One day, on an impulse, Chihuly threw some pieces of glass into the river. The artist now regularly presents old boats floating on pools of water in gardens or incorporates them into the environments he dreams up for museums.
Dale Chihuly, Float Boat, 2012, Seattle, Chihuly Garden and Glass. Photo Terry Rishel
First executed with James Carpenter in 1971 in bluish-white glass for the Museum of Contemporary Crafts (today the Museum of Arts and Design) in New York, the artist has been fascinated by this material and has made the most of its artist potential. Glass Forest #6 presents light sources and glass which are the basic elements of the works and environments Chihuly creates with neon. These fluorescent structures enable him to experiment with colour, scale and line in space. Dozens of slumped spheres rear upwards like germinating seeds. The piece is made of blown white glass filled with argon gas and neon, which produces the shades of pink. The ethereal silhouettes looming up in the darkness create a breathtakingly eerie effect.
Dale Chihuly, Glass Forest #5, 2012, 2 x 8,5 x 4,9 m, Seattle, Chihuly Garden and Glass. Photo Scott M. Leen
The Macchia series launched in 1981 led Chihuly to work with the full range of the 300 colours of glass produced by the German company Kugler. These sculptural bowls are characterized by their undulating sides and rims, the result of gravity, and by their large formats (a metre high and a metre wide). Assembled on slender steel pedestals and lit from above, the brilliantly coloured Macchia are brought to life by the light that shines on them and is reflected on the surrounding walls, producing an exquisite effect reminiscent of the "walls of light" of European stained-glass windows.
Dale Chihuly, Macchia Forest, 2012, Seattle, Chihuly Garden and Glass. Photo Terry Rishel
On sale at the Museum Boutique and Bookstore
In the context of this exhibition, the MMFA is also producing the first comprehensive publication in French on Chihuly’s work with graphic design by the Quebec company Paprika. This 224-page art book will present an account of the artist’s career with about 200 illustrations of his works. Essays by specialists is throwing light on the artist’s creative process, his work with his collaborators and his unique personality, as well as his role as a pioneer of the Studio Glass.
Available in English & French
This one-of-a-kind audioguide will give you a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in Dale Chihuly’s hotshop. The artist talks about the installations created specifically for the MMFA. He also speaks candidly and humorously about his early interest in glass, his production, team approach and the many influences that have informed his work.
Create pieces of art like Chihuly
Experience Chihuly's style of art like never before with a free, first-of-its-kind generative art app. Features: Use real Chihuly styles like Fiori, Macchia, and Seaform • Form shapes by blowing into your device, including full support for iPhone 5 • Bend, curve, and mold with a touch • Create virtual installations by adding more shapes • Explore art created by other users in full 3D • Follow Chihuly’s life and work with a complete timeline.
Discover the works of Dale Chihuly in pictures and videos. More, see pictures of the exhibition opening and other audiovisual materials.
I want the pieces to be very often as if they are from nature. And so you are not sure, is it man-made? Is it made by nature.