May 19 - October 21, 2012
Organized by Museum of Glass
Origins showcases works made by Dale Chihuly in his early career, from 1968 through the 1980s. The artwork displayed includes 30 transitional pieces from prominent local collections and the Museum’s Permanent Collection along with historic exhibition posters from the Mary Hale Cockran Library. Collectively, the works chronicle Chihuly’s influence as an artist, a visionary and a pioneer of the American Studio Glass movement.
The earliest works in the exhibition date back to 1968 when Chihuly was a student at the Rhode Island School of Design. Funded by a Fulbright Grant, Chihuly traveled to Venice to work in the prestigious Venini Fabrica for a year to learn the carefully-guarded secrets of Venetian glassblowing. The techniques Chihuly learned from the Venini glassworkers were pivotal to his development as an artist. This influence is dramatically evident in the earliest works in the exhibition, RISD Goblets, created prior to his trip to Venice. Other works in the exhibition include examples of Chihuly’s earliest Cylinders, Sea Forms and Macchias.
The central piece of the exhibition in an historic 33-piece installation titled Persian Sea Forms that was gifted to the Museum of Glass in 2011. The work was created in 1988 by a small team of artists—including lead gaffers Martin Blank and Richard Royal—assembled by Chihuly to experiment on the design. His subsequent Persian series were the result of this session.
“This exhibition provides an historic overview of Dale Chihuly’s progress as an artist from his first experimentations with glass,” comments Susan Warner, Museum of Glass executive director and curator. “Most of his design series are represented here and reveal a fascinating journey of experimentation when compared to his later works, like those on the Chihuly Bridge of Glass and what is sure be displayed at the new Chihuly Garden and Glass at Seattle Center.”