"I want people to be overwhelmed with light and colour in a way they've never experienced before." – Dale Chihuly
In Chihuly, the latest major offering from the Royal Ontario Museum – and without doubt the most colourful in recent memory – the sculptures of glass and light speak for themselves, not with a whisper but a proclamation: "This," they declare via their intricate designs, mind-bending shapes, vibrant hues and breadth of subject matter, "is what a master artist is capable of creating."
It's a good thing the art speaks volumes because the master himself is a man of few words. Dale Chihuly, 74, was vetted by museum officials and dignitaries this morning at the ROM in downtown Toronto, including US Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman, ROM Director and CEO Josh Bassesches and guest curator Diane Charbonneau. Following their glowing praise the Chihuly himself took the microphone.
"It's a great honour to be here," he said, "and I'd like to thank everybody involved."
Then he returned to his chair as the assembled crowd, many of whom were still adjusting their smartphone cameras to shoot him, quickly regrouped and offered applause. After all, as the saying (sort of) goes, "An illuminating glass sculpture is worth a thousand words."
Chihuly, born in 1941 in Tacoma, Wash., is, of course, the master of blown glass. Originally inclined to follow his passion for interior design, in the mid-1960s Chihuly shifted course and began studying the craft that would make him famous the world over. In 1968 he became the first American to ever work in Venice's Venini glass factory in Murano before establishing himself as a teacher and pioneering avant-garde glass artist back in the U.S. Since then Chihuly's breathtaking glass sculptures have hung over Venice's Grand Canal, graced the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem and appeared in public spaces and major galleries around the globe. It's a feat that makes it even more impressive that the artist created some works specifically for the ROM show.
Click through the pages that follow to see some of the brilliant works of glass and light that make the ROM's Chihuly one of the most astonishing and beautiful installations you'll see in any gallery this year.
CHIHULY is on at the Royal Ontario Museum from June 25, 2016-January 2, 2017. For more information on the exhibit and related events, visit www.rom.on.ca.
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