Dale Chihuly: The Man Behind the Masterpiece

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Dale Chihuly: The Man Behind the Masterpiece

The artist is known not only for his glasswork—which displays exuberant colors, exotic shapes, and a dramatic scale—but also for his outlandish lifestyle and appearance. According to William Warmus, author of The Essential Dale Chihuly, “Henry Geldzahler, former curator of contemporary art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, once said that the striking Chihuly ‘looks like a pirate and sometimes acts like a pirate,’ leading the life of a nomad and traveling the world over to orchestrate museum shows, glassblowing sessions, and installations of his work” (10). Chihuly’s trademark look includes:

About the artist:

“One of my favorite artists is Harry Houdini. Maybe that’s what I’m trying to be—a magician.”

Dale Chihuly was born on September 20, 1941, in Tacoma, Washington. A butcher’s son, he was born into a humble, working-class family. His only brother died in a navy training accident in 1957. Months later, his father suffered a fatal heart attack. Chihuly was devastated by the loss, but his mother convinced him to go on to college. While attending the University of Washington, Chihuly completed an assignment to use nonfiber material in a weaving…As Warmus recalls:

This proves to be the occasion of his first serious glass artwork, Glass Weaving, in which glass shards are interlaced with metal wires that he has fused into glass. Smitten with his new art form, Chihuly is awarded the Seattle Weavers Guild Award in 1964 for his innovative use of glass and fiber. (Warmus 17)

The Child and the Adult:

Many of Chihuly’s childhood experiences influenced his art later in life:

Young Dale spends much of his childhood at the beach with his family, and enjo...

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...p of that, Chihuly has his own publishing company, Portland Press, and published several books on his own. Some of these can be found on his website at http://www.chihuly.com/biblio/writings.html.

the big picture:

Besides the colossal glass works that Chihuly has spread across the planet, how is he contributing to society? Although most known as Dale Chihuly, the artist, it is Dale Chihuly, the character, who has contributed the most to society. He is an unrestrainedly free spirit, seeking out energy, life, and peace of mind through a pursuit of beauty. It just happens that art is his way of sharing these sensations with the world.

References

Chihuly. 20 Nov. 2001 <www.chihuly.com>.

Form From Fire: Educator Resource Packet. Dayton: Dayton Art Institute, 2001.

Warmus, William. The Essential Dale Chihuly. New York: Wonderland Press, 2000.

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