Chihuly in Groningen


From 8 December 2018 to 5 May 2019 a large exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s glass creation was on display at the Groninger Museum in the city of Groningen. It was the largest European museum show of his work in 20 years. I happened to be in Groningen, and decided to visit:

Can’t miss it.

“Nijima floats”. The name refers to the glass floats attached to Japanese fishing nets that would wash ashore on the beach in Tacoma, where Dale Chihuly spent his youth. These glass floats originate from the island Nijima. The glass orbs in this intallation however, are humongeous: the biggerst orbs have a diameter of about a meter (around three feet). The picture really doesn’t do them justice: people were honestly at a loss for words when they entered the first room of the exhibit and saw this intallation.

The “Grand stairwell installation”. This installation was created specifically for this museum’s staircase, and comprises of about 70 glass objects that weigh between 8 and 15 kilo (about 17 to 33 lbs). The Groninger Museum has bought this installation, and it will now be on display as part of their permanent collection.

These objects are obviously inspired by underwater life. Or at least, that’s my interpretation.

This huge object (more than one meter/three feet high) was SO unbelievably beautiful, that I just stared at it for ten minutes. The colours, the shapes, the fact that this is hand blown glass and not ceramics.

“Mille fiori” (= “thousand flowers”), a garden full of organic glass shapes. While it is not my custom to have people in my pictures, in this case having a person on the right helps: it gives an indication of how massive this collection of work is.

“Sapphire Tumbleweeds”, an installation of “sculptures composed from bundles of linear, factory made tubes, bent by heat into curvilinear forms”, as the sign said. These tumbleweeds again are HUGE: some of them are more than two meters (6,5 feet) wide. Due to the way that they are positioned, it looks like they are actually being blown away by the wind.

Dale Chihuly is not only a glass artist, he also paint. Many of his glass objects start off as a drawing, like these “Rotolo”. The coils (“rotolo” means “coil” in Italian) weigh about 65 kilos (about 143 lbs) each and are very hard to make: it takes a well oiled team to create them.

For everyone that is now confused and can’t fathom how these works are made, or for the people who just want to know how he does it: I found a short documentary from 1988 that explains the process a bit:

Want more Chihuly?

Chihuly homepage

Chihuly Garden and Glass (permanent exhibit in Seattle)

A plethora of books about/containing his work

Information from the Groninger Museum about the exhibit, with footage


Note: Like all my posts in the “Get out of the house!” series, this activity was booked and paid for by me, after which I got stoked and decided to write about it all by myself. #nospon