Dale Chihuly, ‘Mille Colori’, 2003, Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art

Suspended from the ceiling, this colorful work of
art by artist Dale Chihuly was originally part of an
exhibition where 15 of these enormous chandeliers
were placed under bridges and across Venetian canals
as a tribute to the biennale Aperto Vetro. Measuring
14 feet tall by eight feet wide, the chandelier is made
up of 520 blown glass objects attached to a metal
frame called an armature. You might notice shapes
that remind you of horns, split leaves, water drops,
or goosenecks – the same names the artist uses to
identify each one. These shapes weave in and out, and
together they form one large cone shape extending
downward to a point barely above visitors’ heads.
Even though most of the chandelier is made of hollow
glass, the final work weighs over 2,000 pounds.

Image rights: Courtesy of the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)

About Dale Chihuly

Since the late 1960s, Dale Chihuly has been revolutionizing the art and craft of glassblowing, concocting dynamic, flamboyant, color-saturated forms that push this ubiquitous material far beyond utilitarian ends, including his signature, massing chandeliers. His works, seen across the U.S. and worldwide, include individual pieces ranging from undulating, nested vessels to whimsical sea creatures, and encompassing architectural installations. He bases his multidisciplinary approach upon teamwork, with up to 18 people working at a time, and draws from architecture and design, painters and sculptors, Native American baskets, and nature. As Chihuly describes, in terms reflecting his egalitarian attitude: “My feeling is that it doesn't make any difference if the work is called art or craft or design…If they go into the museum, which has everything from native masks to painting, these objects become equals—one really isn't more important than another.”

American, b. 1941, Tacoma, Washington