Pioneer Glassblower Dale Chihuly Brings New Work and Monumental Favorites to Marlborough Gallery

At one point, he owned 28 Aston Martins.


Dale Chihuly has been an innovative figure in contemporary art for over three decades. In 1968, he began working at the Venini glass factory in Venice and has pioneered glassblowing as an art form ever since.

At “Chihuly at Marlborough,” an exhibition which runs through April 11 at Marlborough Gallery, most recent works from his “Rotolo” series are displayed along with works from his earlier “Jerusalem Cylinders” and “Soft Cylinders” series.

Chihuly spent time in his early twenties working on a kibbutz in Israel, an experience that profoundly influenced his work. The Jerusalem Cylinders on view in the gallery (created for his 1999 exhibition “Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem”) conjure the great stones that were used to build the Jerusalem Citadel, also known as the Tower of David. Their unpolished and crude appearance differs from the more manipulated works on display—his “Soft Cylinders” consist of delicate, colorful bowls.

At the center of the gallery is Sapphire Neon with Burned Logs and Neodymium Reeds (2015), a startling and surprisingly cohesive installation of giant logs of burnt wood and sculptures of fine, neon-glass (the Reeds project came to fruition after a few days spent in Nuutajärvi, Finland in 1995).

The artist is greatly inspired being near the water (his studio, The Boathouse, is situated on Lake Union in Seattle), a theme transparent in his “Chihuly over Venice” exhibition of the mid-’90s. “I think I wanted to come [to Venice] first and foremost because of the water, the water and the architecture, and the fact that I was here 28 years ago as a student in Murano,” he explains in a 1996 interview.

We sat down with Chihuly at the gallery to discuss the current exhibition and his lifetime commitment to the art of glassblowing.

Mr. Chihuly, an avid collector, confessed, “I’m inspired by cars (at one point, he owned 28 Aston Martins), but I have a lot of different collections, art is only a small part of it.” If he could own any artwork in the world? “A Frank Lloyd Wright house,” he said, “which I almost bought.”


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