Halcyon Gallery will open its new gallery on New Bond Street on 5 December 2011, with an inaugural exhibition by Dale Chihuly. The artist comments, “Returning to London to show this important collection of work is truly exciting. The inaugural exhibition at Halcyon Gallery, in such an incredible building, presents the ideal space to show this work – I’m pushing the boundaries of the medium as far as they can go in terms of scale and new techniques all the time.”
The timing of this exhibition is significant for Chihuly, as 2012 will mark fifty years of the International Studio Glass Movement. Chihuly is a founding member and leading protagonist of the Movement, which started from humble beginnings in America in 1962.Since the early days, Chihuly has done more to revolutionise how glass is perceived as an art form worldwide, than any other artist working with the medium.
The Chihuly exhibition will occupy all three levels of the new gallery space and will feature new site-specific work such as a 24-foot long Mille Fiori garden of glass and a two storey Gold and Quartz Two Tier Chandelier, as well as drawings and paintings by the artist. Works across the glass series, which Chihuly has developed throughout his career, since the 1970s, will be represented in the exhibition. Chihuly’s exotic forms, which burst with rich, vibrant colours, include Cylinders and Baskets in the 1970s; Seaforms, Macchia, Venetians, and Persians in the 1980s; Ikebana and Chandeliers in the 1990s; and Mille Fiori in the 2000s.
Chihuly says of his work, “Over time I developed the most organic, natural way of working with glass, using the fewest number of tools that I could. The glass looks as if it has come from nature. I don’t really know where the ideas come from. They come from a lot of different places.
One of the most important inspirations for me is the glass itself, the glass blowing process, this wondrous event of blowing human air down a blowpipe and having this form appear. I’m obsessed with color – never saw one I didn’t like.”
Chihuly is internationally known for his ambitious architectural installations around the world, in historic cities, public museums and private homes and gardens. Three of the artist’s large Chandelier installations will feature in the exhibition.
Stylistically over the past forty years, Chihuly’s sculptures in glass have explored colour, line, and assemblage. His work ranges from single vessels to indoor and outdoor site-specific installations, including ‘mini-environments‘, and large, serialised forms displayed in groupings on pedestals, or attached to specially engineered structures that dominate large exterior or interior spaces.
Chihuly’s work is widely known and collected in the UK. He is perhaps best known here for the important ‘Chihuly at the V&A’ exhibition at the V&A Museum in 2001, and his impressive 27 foot high V&A Chandelier, commissioned to herald the exhibition, which remains in place as a major permanent exhibit over the grand entrance hall. The iconic piece has been seen by millions since its installation. The V&A Museum exhibition was followed by a large site-specific installation ‘Gardens of Glass, Chihuly at Kew’ at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 2005, which was seen by 860,000 people.
In 1995, Chihuly took his team to the famous Waterford glassworks in Ireland to make Chandeliers and Towers for the ‘Chihuly Over Venice’ project (1995-6), to be installed over the canals and piazzas of Venice. That same year, Chihuly installed work at the National Botanic Gardens at Glasnevin near Dublin, and at Lismore Castle in Ireland. Chihuly last exhibited in the UK at Chatsworth in 2006.
Chihuly is represented in over 225 international museums and in private collections including the Royal Collection, The White House Collection of American Crafts, President Francois Mitterand, Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, Elton John, and the John Paul Getty Trust.
In 1986, Chihuly was honoured with a solo exhibition, ‘Dale Chihuly: Objets de Verre’, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais du Louvre, in Paris, which paved the way for further public exhibitions around the world. The large site-specific installation, ‘Chihuly in the Light of Jersualem 2000’ was attended by over 1 million visitors, and recent international museum shows have achieved up to 400,000 visitors. This summer, the ‘Chihuly Through the Looking Glass’ exhibition at The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, was attended by 372,000 people. Visitors to the Boston exhibition campaigned for the Museum to acquire its centrepiece, the 42-foot-tall Lime Green Icicle Tower, which will remain as a focal point at the museum, through a public appeal raising more than $1 million.
A 200 page catalogue for the Chihuly exhibition at Halcyon Gallery will feature an extensive essay by UK art critic and broadcaster Matthew Collings, who comments, “The mood of positive energy in Chihuly’s sculptures leaves no room for sneers or nihilism, nor for chin-stroking philosophising, or airy spirituality; in fact their sheer exuberant, material joyfulness makes them unlike much else that is considered centre-stage in contemporary art.”