Chihuly, Dale Patrick

Chihuly, Dale Patrick

Chihuly, Dale Patrick 1941-, American glass artist, b. Tacoma, Wash.; grad. Univ. of Washington, Seattle (B.A., 1965), Rhode Island School of Design (RISD; M.F.A., 1967), Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison (M.S., 1967). Probably the foremost figure in the contemporary art-glass movement, Chihuly experimented with the medium while an undergraduate and studied the glassblower's art at a Venetian glass studio (1968). He founded (1969) the glass department at RISD, taught there for 11 years, and in 1971 established the influential Pilchuck Glass School near Seattle. Extremely prolific, Chihuly (working with a crew of technicians) creates glass sculptures in a rainbow of colors, sometimes opaque, translucent, or iridescent; and in an astonishing variety of semiabstract shapes, including baskets, sea and flower forms, globes, stumps, cylinders, and hanging garlands. His works range from miniatures to large architectural installations, such as the celebrated pieces in Chihuly over Venice (1996) and the works on the Bridge of Glass (2002) at the Museum of Glass: International Center for Contemporary Art in Tacoma, Wash.

See his Chihuly: Color, Glass, and Form (1986) and Chihuly Projects (2000); D. B. Kuspit, Chihuly (2d ed. 1997).

Dale Patrick Chihuly (b. September 20, 1941 in Tacoma, Washington, U.S.) is an American glass sculptor.


Chihuly graduated from high school in Tacoma. Supported by his mother, after his brother George's death in a flight-training accident in Florida and his father's death of a heart attack, he enrolled at the College of the Puget Sound (now University of Puget Sound) in 1959. A year later, he transferred to the University of Washington at Seattle, where he studied interior design, architecture and glassblowing.

In 1967, he received a Masters of Science in glassblowing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied under Harvey Littleton. In 1968, he received a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he later helped establish the school's glass program. In that year, he also received a Fulbright Fellowship, and went on to become the first American glassblower to work in the prestigious Venini Fabrica on the island of Murano. Along with several other glass artists, and with the support of John Hauberg and Anne Gould Hauberg, Chihuly founded the influential Pilchuck Glass School in 1971 in Stanwood, Washington.

Chihuly lives and works in his 25,000 square foot (2300 m²) studio, nicknamed "The Boathouse" for its former use, on Lake Union. Since losing the vision in one of his eyes in a car accident in 1976, Chihuly (who wears an eyepatch) no longer has the depth perception necessary to handle the molten glass himself. Instead, he conceptualizes each project with paint and canvas and then employs a team of artists to do the work. The documentary Chihuly Over Venice became the first HDTV program to be broadcast in the United States when it aired in November 1998. In 1991, Chihuly began his Niijima Floats Series[], some of the largest blown glass pieces in the world, at the Niijima International Glass Art Festival in Japan.

About his work

His fascination with abstract nature forms comes from his mother's garden in Tacoma, Washington. His love for the ocean and its creatures is also reflected in his art.

Over the past forty years, Chihuly’s glass sculptures have explored color, design, and assemblage. Although his work varies in size and color, he is best known for his multipart blown masterpieces. Also interested in Irish culture, he has produced a sizeable volume of "Irish cylinders, which are more modest in conception than his blown glass works.

Some of Chihuly's works cover whole ceilings of casinos and hotels, while others are hand-sized abstract flowers. Chihuly uses intense colors to bring his work to life. He is also known for using neon and argon. Chihuly has a store at the MGM Grand Casino in Macau. One of Chihuly's sculptures was prominently displayed on the sitcom Frasier, which is set in nearby Seattle.

Chihuly uses nature as a setting for his pieces, and for creating his pieces as though they are part of nature. He sometimes entwines his pieces around tree branches and trunks. He also suspends them in space and floats them in water.

2006 lawsuit

In 2006, Chihuly filed a lawsuit against a pair of glassblowers, including Robert Kaindl, whom he accused of copying his work. The lawsuit was settled out of court.

Permanent collections

United States






  • Chihuly Over Venice by William Warmus and Dana Self. Seattle: Portland Press, 1996.
  • Chihuly by Donald Kuspit. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1998.
  • The Essential Dale Chihuly by William Warmus. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2000.
  • Dale Chihuly:365 Days. Margaret L. Kaplan, Editor. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2008.


External links

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