Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Chihuly: Blue and Beyond Blue


Blue and Beyond Blue
Dale Chilhuly (American, b. 1941)
New Britain Museum of American Art

Image ©2014 Quodlibet All rights reserved
This interesting piece, Blue and Beyond Blue, by American artist Dale Chihuly (b.1941) was installed at the New Britain Museum of American Art several years ago. The piece actually hangs on the vertical; I took this photo at an angle so as to avoid any peripheral objects. Well, I like it better  this way.

It's about time I recorded my impressions of this impressive piece.

As I wrote recently, it can take several visits to get to know a piece of art, and this is one reason why D and I visit the Museum about once a month. It certainly has been true for this sculpture.

I’ve always admired the technical skill that was necessary to produce this sculpture, but as a work of art it doesn’t really move me. It is such a tour de force of technology that I can’t help but perceive it in those terms. When I think about the colors, my first response is to wonder about the chemistry that allowed the artist to achieve the range of hues. 

The information card on the wall nearby indicates that this sculpture has 257 parts. When I examine the intertwining tendrils or whatever they are, I can’t help but wonder how the whole thing is held together. Glue? Little metal, um, brackets or whatever they're called, such as is done with stone work or broken dinnerware? Spider silk?

Oh, those information cards … I’ve written before (here and here) about the steady stream of errors or odd verbiage in the informational cards at the NBMMA. When I read the card for the Chihuly, I puzzled over the use of the word “chandelier” to describe this work:

“This chandelier is part of Chihuly’s sculptural exploration of sea forms…”

There’s not a candle in sight, of course, nor is there a bulb or other source of illumination within the sculpture, as would be true if it actually were a chandelier. Did Chihuly call this a chandelier, or was the term chosen by a museum employee, who must think that a “chandelier” is just a fancy, complicated decorative glass structure suspended in an interior space?


I would love to be the person who researches and write those cards, which are, in essence, little program notes.

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