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Dale Chihuly and His Glass Artwork Style

Dale Chihuly, the artist

According to Taragin (13), Dale Chihuly is reputable for enhancing the change of glass art gallery from their original premise of solemn studio environment to better establishments where the lifestyle of the art world involves the collaborative endeavors and dissection of workforces within a creative procedure. This contribution to the artwork extends to greater heights today. He embraces the strategy of pulling a team of artists together with the exceptional practice of glass-blowing skills that is the foundation for complex multipart sculptures. His artwork places him in the leadership position concerning the advancement of the blown glass from the confines of small, precious objects to highly structured sculptures and environmental arts.

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According to Taragin (10), Dale Chihuly was born on September 20, 1941, at Tacoma, Washington, “to George Chihuly and Viola Magnuson Chihuly” as a younger sibling to the late George Chihuly killed during the training process of the Naval Air Force in Pensacola, Florida in 1957. He graduated from high school in 1959 to join the college of sound but transferred to the University of Washington in Seattle to study architecture and interior designs.

Because of dissatisfaction with his studies, he transferred to study art at Florence in 1962. He later traveled to the Middle East to work because of discouragement over language barriers but later moves back to Washington University to a weaving class under the college of Arts and Science. He began to incorporate glass in the woven tapestries. 1He blows his first bubble by melting glass and using a tape pipe. He then goes for studies at “University of Wisconsin” In 1966, in Madison to study blowing of glass. He later joins “the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)” in 1967, after graduating from Wisconsin University, and finds the chance of investigating the art workmanship using “neon, argon and, blown glass” (Taragin, 10).

Dale Chihuly’s place of residence

After dislocating a shoulder in a surfing accident, Dale Chihuly resigned from the gaffer’s position to start communicating his designs through written and drawn designs beside others serving as gaffers and a team of glassblowers. In 1990, Dale Chihuly purchased the famous and historical Pocork Building situated at Lake Union after realizing his fascination with the water in Seattle. The boathouse building gets a renovation and changes from the status quo to become a studio, collection store and, a shop for all his artwork.

Today this house is a vast full of glass designs where Dale Chihuly lives and works from. The boathouse sports a sunken room facing out into the water. This studio is a Mecca for collectors, artists, and museum professionals from all over the world. The house is a museum of his work ranging from the Pendleton blankets to the formal qualities, thus forming a major inspiration to a wide range of artists across the globe. There is very little doubt that Dale Chihuly is the foremost glass artist still in existence today.

Dale Chihuly’s artistic style

Dale Chihuly is a prolific artist whose artistic work balances the content to properties of the material used; glass, such as transparency, reflection, or translucency. At the time of this kind of artwork commencement, the use of different materials and styles was relevant and paramount. His style emerges through the captivation of glass blowing processes. The style gets influence by his ambition to get over the boundaries that separate all the forms of arts.

He creates room-sized installations of organic/plant-like, freestanding imagery or sculptures that stylistically explore color, contours and, assemblage fitting both the indoors and outdoor fittings. The artwork ranges from single and general structures to site specified installations. The best artwork depicts the multipart blown compositions categorized in mini-environments as tabletops and large serialized artworks. He often has his work on a wide range of surfaces, for instance, the common natural water bodies. The current styles incorporate plastic polymers for outdoor environments.

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Today, the glass artwork style of Dale Chihuly has a wide vocabulary of exciting new elements such as the baskets and cylinders that explore the black color. (Oldknow, 12) The blown forms have styles with strong vocabulary utilized in the black series against other vibrant colors such as red. “The artwork on paper reflects new interests in silver or gold against a black background” (Oldknow, 12).

They have, for a long, incorporated the prominence line element in the majority of his styles, such as the blanket cylinders. Later, his style of blowing forms a reflection of a repeated motif wherefrom the water bodies. Another significant part of the style was the elongated products of the glass blowing process that was a linear blown form. Especially in the recent chandeliers, boats, or towers, and his paperwork still demonstrate similar linear quality. This means that whether he communicates through pencil, painting, or blown glass, the same style of attenuated lines still dominates the composition.

A person mesmerized by Dale Chihuly artwork cannot miss his signature style. The artwork is formal, elegant, extravagant and, has a variety of dramatic emotional and visual effects due to its color themes, baroque, dazzling, enormous constantly appealing throughout his glass blowing tradition. His latest fascination seems to be on the abstracted flower forms, which is apparent from his gardens in Tacoma. Evidently, the imagery style of an artist strongly manifests itself even when there is some historical decorative aspiring in an art form. For instance, series such as illusions to his childhood lifestyle like the sea-forms are evident in his latest styles such as chandeliers.

Dale Chihuly’s primary media

The primary media in Dale Chihuly’s work is glass. He has applied the glass element but transformed it through new technologies and processes. According to (Sayre, 331), glass is one of the most ancient material produced trough liquidation of silica through heating. The inherent properties of glass elaborate how artists expressively and expansively elaborate various properties of glass to create various forms of ware for utilitarian purposes.

The places where Dale Chihuly’s work can be seen

Over the years, the artist has come up with a variety of memorable illustrations and exhibitions that are today evident such as “Chihuly in the park: A garden of Glass at Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory.” His sensitivity to the art of architect and interest for the light playing part of the designs is equally evident in the “Chuhuly’s Bridge of Glass” at Tacoma Art Museum in Tacoma built in 2002.

His work still embeds to the earlier elements of art installations, which eluded the natural aspects of the environment such as vegetation or icicles. The garden is a dominant theme in his work as evident in the recent works. For instance the “Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens (2007)” facilitates monumental an organically shaped sculptural arts with beautiful landscaping aspects that assists in establishing a straight and instantaneous interface with nature such as the environmental light and art.

He equally has a recent installation at the “Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum (2008)” which depicts a progression towards logical modernization and natural environmental aspects supporting reality. The early neon environments entails vibrant multicoloured facet but this limits to single coloration palettes with a more mature vocabulary. This latest artwork at the de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco is a strong indication that the current artwork is an established fact.

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The features of the artist

Glass is a unique but acceptable medium of art design and for that reason, the artist deserves to be recognition for the discovery and installation of the blown glass, which is an eminent element for 21st century. The production of glass sculptures is now large scale to suite various environments.

As the co-founder of the “Pilchuck Glass School,” he is a huge catalyst and model to the visual arts in the education sector. I believe he is a hero to many, especially the aspiring glass artists because he has seen through the evolution of the glass blowing artwork. Through his education as well as work experiences, artists are in a position to know that the output does not depend on the glass manipulation activities only but mainly through the mind.

Dale Chihuly’s Garfield Park Conservatory installation

Initially, one would not believe that harmonizing sand with fire would create such a distinctive element as decorative glass artwork. For a glass blower such as Dale Chihuly, the diversity of form in terms of colour, design complexity and interplay with glass transparency gives an outcome that is a very different world of design. His work has always had a strong engagement to nature and thus clearly and perfectly brought out the rendezvous, in such a perfect and impressive way.

Considering his outdoor artwork “Dale Chihuly’s Garfield Park Conservatory installation in Chicago, there is a carefully staged encounters between the glass objects and the plant environment of the botanical foliage. The project is centred at a river to incorporate the artificial nature of blown glass artwork hanging from the trees and others floating on the water. The work connection between nature and art is not an imitation but a bond with the autonomous world’s organic colours and platforms. He puts the artwork in an environment that influences the viewers’ perception due to the site-related setting of the glass art.

The work portrays the glass medium as sufficient and autonomous. He utilizes the transparency and reflecting qualities of glass in lighting the environment. This is an extension of the “artificial Paradise Metaphor” with the aim of merging the brightly coloured flowers and mental patterns to give a harmonized glass vegetation environment, which magnificently raises itself to a level of absolute beauty. This major project takes its bearing from the big workshops of baroque artists and renaissance as opposed to picking the original work of the modern art.

According to Barbara Rose (3), about “Dale Chihuly’s Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory, a two-acre-long”, “glassed-in tropical garden is one of the largest conservatories in the United States.” The appearance of lighting effect by the blown glass brings out a unique aspect within his work because, which contrasts the “frostiness of the glass due to shattering and fragility, with the overall atmosphere of warmth” (Barbara Rose, 3).

He therefore achieves the clear ambition to touch on people’s feelings with the clarity of artwork. Dale Chihuly created over thirty glass pieces installations dispersed along the branches and trunks of trees; other glass works dangles in space and, glass flowers floats in artificial ponds. The scattered installations are identified as “Peacock Blue Tower, Persian Pond, Macchia Forest, Basket Forest, End-of-the-Day Palm Tree, Fern Room Niijima Floats, Black Saguaros, Desert House Red Reeds, Ikebana, Venetians, Putti, Tiger Lilies, and Tree Urchins” (Barbara Rose, 3). The materials have re-contextualized elements to fit the specified site for assembly.

Eventually, the distinct difference between natural and artificial characteristics and nature elicits a great experience of artistic setting. For instance installation of “Glass reeds, fronds, vines, blossoms, bouquets, garlands, a fanciful Art Nouveau Tiffany-type snake, and a whimsical mock Renaissance garden fountain of a toadstool sitting on a turtle topped by a gold glass putto are interspersed with the living botanical displays” (Barbara Rose, 3).

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Special things known about the artist

One thing to note is that an artist is able to pick up existing content to come up with brilliant ideas as Dale Chihuly show in his work. Considering majority of this work creates unique theme by getting the ideas from the natural human habitat such as the garden perspective. Considering his perspective of artwork, creative people need to have different perceptions at any given time. For instance, it is wise to ask different kind of questions depending on the environment one faces, with the aim of figuring out the real and true response. Te kind of questions one asks diverts the personal way of thinking to respond to what people would be pleased to see.

Secondly, what is the difference between art, design and craft? According to Dale Chihuly, the quality and attractiveness of the work is what matters, but not the type or category of the work. This depends with those ho decides what is good and directs it to the gallery or museums. The artworks in a museum are equal regardless of the type. This means that it does not seem very useful to categorize or maintain the distinction between definitions of artwork in order to pursue something, but categorization can be for creating hierarchies of works within a department.

Thirdly, the artist emphasizes the aspect of solid and transparent glass as a substance for transmitting and reflecting vibrant colours. His work is an indication that glass has the capacity to transmit as well as reflect vibrant colours. The work still reveals that the glass has the capacity to transmit light and equally radiate colour.

The glass creations of Gale involve human creativity as opposed to products of nature. This is an aspect in his work makes current world of art to be better, compared to products by earlier artists. It also makes aspiring artists to be more flexible than in their natural way of thinking.

Lastly, his work seems to come out with a similar overview regardless of the medium utilized. Whether he communicates through pencil, painting or blown glass, the same style of attenuated lines still dominate the composition. An aspect most artists ought to emulate.

Work Cited

Barbara Rose, “Dale Chihuly’s Paradise Regained”, in: Dale Chihuly, Chihuly Projects, Seattle, WA: Portland Press; New York: Abrams, 2000.

Oldknow, Tina. “Dale Chihuly: A Selective Biography.” Glass Art Society Journal, 2003, p. 12–15.

Sayre, Henry M. A World of Art. Fifth Ed. New Jersey: Pearson, 2007.

Taragin, Davira S. “Dale Chihuly; Current Biography.” Racine Art Museum; Curator, the Detroit Institute of Arts, Toledo Museum of Art. Vol. 56, No. 8, 1995, p. 10-14. Web.


  1. Taragin, Davira S. “Dale Chihuly; Current Biography. Web.

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