Chihuly at the VMFA
Persian Ceiling, 2008. de Young Museum, San Francisco (detail). Photo Credit: Teresa Nouri Rishe.
As you walk into the VMFA’s main entrance you will notice that the reflecting pool is filled with glass red tubes and orbs. This is part of the Red Reeds installation which featured 200 red glass reeds. The reeds were blown by team Chihuly in Finland because of the excellent clarity of glass and to take advantage of the bigger annealing ovens used to faciliate the curing of these large-scaled elements, which are as much as 10 feet in height. Water lilies, lotus and grasses will be positioned throughout the installation. Chihuly’s work is frequently informed by nature and the artist has exhibited his work at major botanical gardens and natural settings internationally.
Once inside, be sure to buy a ticket for the special exhibition, Chihuly at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, because they are timed tickets. Tickets are priced regurally at $20, $16 for seniors, and free for any members. This exhibition is the artist’s third major U.S. museum exhibition in recent years. Chihuly is recognized for his ambitious architectural installations around the world, in historic cities, public museums and gardens. Ninety-seven exhibitions in seven countries have presented artworks by the artist during the last decade, which have been enjoyed by more than 10 million visitors. He is credited with revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement and elevating the medium of glass from the realm of craft to fine art.
The exhibition fills the 12,000-square-foot special exhibition galleries. It features nine installations designed specifically for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Seven installations are on view in the temporary exhibition space, one in the Cochrane Atrium and one (installed in August as a preview to the exhibition), in the Anne Cobb Gottwald Reflecting Pool.
The installations include many iconic works for which Chihuly is known – Ikebana; Mille Fiori; Chandeliers; Tabac Baskets; Venetians; and
Boats – Two weathered row boats are filled with brightly colored glass elements juxtaposed on a reflective black Plexiglas surface. Fiori Boat contains 166 Fiori elements and Float Boat contains 72 Floats;
Macchia Forrest – Macchia (Italian for spotted), is a series that began when Chihuly woke up one day wanting to use all 300 colors that were available to him in the hotshop. Twelve Macchia are presented on metal stands enabling visitors to embark upon a journey of color, shape and form;
Northwest Room – A 22’ foot Douglas Fir table displays an assemblage of 30 ethereal glass Baskets inspired by Native American baskets. Evoking the artist’s native Pacific Northwest environment, 100 trade blankets and 18 Edward S. Curtis prints replicate a similar installation in the artist’s Boathouse Studio in Seattle, Wash.;
Violet Tumbleweed – In 1993, Chihuly started creating tumbleweeds for an installation he did in his hometown of Tacoma, Wash. called a Hundred Thousand Pounds of Ice and Neon. The bromo blue colored neon tumbleweed created for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was made with 150 feet of neon and 30 tubes;
Blue Reeds on Logs – Massing color together with many pieces in a single installation, Chihuly’s Blue Reeds on Logs is composed of 201 elegant glass turquoise Reeds atop a cascading composition of western cedar logs;
Persian Ceiling – More than 1,000 Persian glass elements are lit from above in this overhead kaleidoscope of color, form and transparency.
All of these art workes were shipped by the Chihuly Studio in five 53-foot containers from Tacoma, Washington. Chihuly Studio’s team of 10 began installing the work on October 5th and worked over a period of 10 days to complete the installations. The exhibition includes new and early works representing the breadth and scope of the artist’s vision throughout the last four decades.
The exhibition is on display until February 10, 2013
Jon Henry comes from the small town of Washington, Virginia. Xe finished xes degree at the University of Richmond and was named GayRVA.com's Out.Spoken. Richmonder of the Year for 2011. When not in class, xe is either in the studio or rabble rousing with other queer activists. Follow xem on Twitter.
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