Sunday, August 5, 2007
All in a Dale's Work
Few 3D artists capture my heart the way 2D designers and illustrators do. Dale Chihuly is that one rare exception. Since I first laid eyes on one of his purple glass bowls with red lips in my freshman year art history book I've been hooked. The sculpture was stunning - even in a mere 2 inch by 2 inch photograph. His pieces are pure eye candy, in every sense of the term. Chihuly has been responsible for revolutionizing the studio glass movement, bringing pieces with dramatic lines and brilliant colors into unusual spaces such as chandeliers in hotel lobbies and casinos to botanical gardens and lakes.
According to a description on Chihuly's website, most of his installations over the last 25 years have been defined by "intense, vibrant color and subtle linear decoration." His pieces have such energy to them and the colors are so spectacular, seeing them in person almost gives you the sense that you've walked into Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory where rainbow colored lollipops jump out against the natural elements. Take, for example the piece below, taken from the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh where Chihuly currently has a display until November.
Given the fantasy and almost cartoon-like quality of some of his work, it hardly seems surprising that Chihuly was commissioned to create an installation, the chandelier pictured at the top of this entry, by Disney for its cruise ship, the Wonder. I had an exciting opportunity to view Chihuly's work in person this summer during my cruise, both on the ship and also at the Atlantis Resort and Hotel in Nassau, Bahamas. Interestingly, my favorite of the pieces (and there were four of them) featured at the Atlantis Resort was not one of the brightly colored chandeliers in the casino, but a beautiful 20 foot sculpture exploding out of the ground in one of the main entrances composed of hundreds of pearl and cream glass rods shooting from the floor.
But like many great 3D sculptors, Chihuly is skilled in drawing and printmaking as well. Because the fantastical shapes of sculptors' pieces first come to life on paper it's not surprising that Chihuly has intaglio, sketches, and woodblock prints that are exceptionally captivating as well. His woodblock prints have really caught my eye. Take, for example, the print below entitled Songlines, courtesy of Portland Press. The main purpose of this discussion is to highlight the oh-so-important place that concept drawings have in bringing all areas of art to life. Almost always, there are skilled sketch artists and illustrators behind pieces of great design.