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Cerulean Blue Macchia with Violet Lip Wrap, 1986 by Dale Chihuly


"My work, to this day revolves around a simple set of circumstances: fire, molten glass, human breath, spontaneity, centrifugal force, gravity." - Dale Chihuly


Dale Chihuly was born on September 20, 1941 and is an American glass sculptor. His works are considered to be exceptional in the field of blown glass; and he has adapted the technical difficulties of the medium to explore and implement installations, as well as environment specific artwork.


Chihuly first began experimenting with glass blowing in 1965 and began an extensive education centered around sculpture. He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1968; and that same year was awarded a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant for his work in glass, as well as a Fulbright Fellowship. He traveled to Venice to work at the Venini factory on the island of Murano, where he first saw the team approach to glass blowing. In 1976, while in England, he was involved in a head-on-car crash which propelled him through the windshield. His face was severely cut by glass and he was permanently blinded in his left eye. After recovering, he continued to blow glass until he dislocated his right shoulder in 1979 while body surfing.


No longer able to hold a glassblowing pipe, he was able to utilize the team approach to glass blowing he had seen in Murano, and hired other artists to do the physical work. Chihuly explained the change saying, "Once I stepped back, I liked the view." He felt liberated and more free to see the work from multiple perspectives, and the change enabled him to anticipate problems earlier and to react. His role in the studio changed from participate, to supervisor and problem solver. One of the most critically acclaimed series by Chihuly was the Macchia series. Macchia, which is Italian for spot, was begun in 1981 and continues today.

As Chihuly has explained:

"The Macchia series began with my waking up one day wanting to use all three hundred of the colors in the hot shop. I started by making up a color chart with one color for the interior, another color for the exterior, and contrasting color for the lip wrap, along with various jimmies and dusts of pigment between the layers of glass. Throughout the blowing process, colors were added, layer upon layer. Each piece was another experiment. When we unloaded the ovens in the morning, there was the rush of seeing something I had never seen before. Like much of my work, the series inspired itself. The unbelievable combination of color - that was the driving force."


From Timothy Anglin Burgard, Chihuly the Artist: Breathing Live into Glass, 2008:

(The Macchia) Often balanced slightly off-center, they attempt to capture the essence of glass in its most volatile sate - simultaneously hot and flowing, but also cool and congealing. The blurred edges of the color striations and "spots" suggest that they are being dissolved by heat or have coalesced into opal-like mineral deposits. Chihuly's "lip wraps," think ribbons of colored glass that run along the vessel's lip suggest the presence of a super-heated inner core and recall the leading edge of a lava flow, breaking through the congealing perimeter of a magma mass. - Chihuly's Macchia are permanently aglow with the fires of their creation."


From Robert Hobbs, The Rhoda Thalhimer Endowed Professor of American Art History, Virgina Commonwealth University:

"In the Macchia, Chihuly makes this former (Classic Venetian blown glass) static orientation dynamic and enlarges this conservative scale to awesome proportions. He heightens tensions between inside and outside through dissonant color combinations and through contrasts of opacity, translucency, and transparency. Rather than continuing the preciousness of the filigree of the Bianconi examples, he creates a bolder impact by rolling ships of colored glass into the walls of the vessel for a mottled effect."


Chihuly and his team of artists have been the subjects of several documentaries, extensive printed articles, monographs, and collections.


"Cerulean Blue Macchia with Violet Lip Wrap," 1986 is an exceptional example of Dale Chihuly at his best. This monumental Macchia is composed of cerulean blue as the dominant interior color, pink and yellow spots set against a white ground on the outside, and finished with a contrasting violet colored lip. An absolutely stunning and massive piece of modern glass by the most important glass artist of his time, and a standout of any art collection!


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