DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt

2009/05/27

Biomorphic Glass: Chihuly in the Bronx

Filed under: Others' work,Photography,Reviews — Tags: , , , — fred @ 23:48
Glass installation by Dale Chihuly, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Glass installation by Dale Chihuly, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Dale Chihuly is one of those artists who’s a little too popular to be cool, the Tiffany of our time.  But his work is stunning in its scale and originality, and it particularly shines when it’s exhibited in a biological context, as it was in the summer of 2006 at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, where I took these photos on film with my lovely Konica Hexar camera.  The red spikes of glass shown above are planted around the  magnificent Victorian glasshouse known as the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.  Inside the dome, a tower of blue and yellow curlicues becomes even more vertically imposing by rising from a reflecting pool:

Glass installation by Dale Chihuly, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Glass installation by Dale Chihuly, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Glass installation by Dale Chihuly, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Glass installation by Dale Chihuly, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

These giant constructions are made by wiring hundreds of twisty pieces of blown glass onto a hidden steel frame.  Observe how these forms harmonize with the botanical forms around them.  Chihuly’s methods of glass blowing work with the natural dynamic of taffylike molten silica infused with human breath.  The process is organic rather than mechanical, and so the resulting forms are full of life.

Here is a curlier variant of the planted rods shown at the top of this post, with forms reminiscent of orchids or cobras:

Glass installation by Dale Chihuly, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Glass installation by Dale Chihuly, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

A lotus pond is a perfect place for this explosion of violet tumescence:

Glass installation by Dale Chihuly, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Glass installation by Dale Chihuly, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Or for these crystal flamingo flowers:

Glass installation by Dale Chihuly, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Glass installation by Dale Chihuly, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Or this buoyant glass onion:

Glass installation by Dale Chihuly, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Glass installation by Dale Chihuly, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

The actual biological forms start to look strangely Chihulian, as though they’re infused with breath like blown glass:

Lotus Pond, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Lotus Pond, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Breath is synonymous with spirit, or lifeforce, in many ancient languages:  spiritus, pneuma, ruach, ruh, atman.  I went to the Botanical Garden to photograph the Chihuly pieces, but found the botanical forms compelling in exactly the same way:

Veined leaves, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Veined leaves, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Tropical Plants, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Tropical Plants, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Red White Green, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Red White Green, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Tropical Berries, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Tropical Berries, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Back to the Chihuly works, here’s another tower of glass, this time with a more mineral character:

Glass installation by Dale Chihuly, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Glass installation by Dale Chihuly, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

This sphere of writhing yellowness I think is entitled “The Sun”:

Glass installation by Dale Chihuly, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Glass installation by Dale Chihuly, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Glass installation by Dale Chihuly, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Glass installation by Dale Chihuly, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

This is alchemy:  from the most commonplace starting material – glass is made from sand – Chihuly produces forms that embody beauty and power.

And to conclude, back to the biological manifestations, first the startling red of fallen crabapples:

Crabapples, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Crabapples, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

And finally the green of algae growing in a puddle atop a boulder, a beautiful demonstration of the determination of life to burst forth anywhere and everywhere possible:

Algae, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Algae, photo by Fred Hatt, 2006

Dale Chihuly’s website contains an extensive archive of material about and writings by the artist, such as this interesting piece tying the techniques of weaving and glassmaking.

All of the photos in this post were taken on the same day in 2006, at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, New York.

  • http://www.xoregos.com Shela

    Fred-wonderful photos-beautiful glass and natural objects-as always your perspective fascinating and concisely explained. I’m not a fan of those fabric fanatics, though!

    • http://www.fredhatt.com/blog/ fred

      Shela, thanks for commenting. I know, a lot of people don’t care for “fabric fanatics” Christo and Jeanne-Claude. (I guess since I like to draw nudes you could say I have a bit of an anti-fabric bias myself!) But I’ve always been interested in art that alters the environment, whether it’s Richard Serra’s giant iron slabs or Ana Mendieta’s body-earth rituals. “The Gates” was an interesting transformation of Central Park, but Dale Chihuly’s forms certainly have more raw vitality and charm, and they look really good interspersed among the living things at the Botanical Garden.

  • J. Fowler

    I saw your work at Fairchild Gardens in Miami,Fl and took pictures. I am glad I found you on the internet so I could be sure to give you credit on my pictures. I am sure that everyone tells you this, but I was really impressed with your work and the Bio-connection.

    • http://www.fredhatt.com/blog/ fred

      Thanks, J Fowler, but I’m not Dale Chihuly, the creator of these glass artworks. I’m Fred Hatt, the author of this blog. I took the photos you see here and wrote the article. Dale Chihuly is the glass artist. Click here for Chihuly’s website.

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