|ROYAL BLUE AND RED BASKET SET WITH BLACK LIP WRAPS (94.1643.B8) (1994), BY DALE CHIHULY|
ACQUIRED FROM FOSTER/WHITE GALLERY, KIRKLAND, WASHINGTON, FEBRUARY 1999
HAND-BLOWN GLASS, SIGNATURE ENGRAVED BY THE ARTIST ON TWO OF THE RED ELEMENTS
Dale Chihuly is probably the most widely-recognized glass artist in the world... his works are included in countless museum and private collections, and his major installations at locations as diverse as Las Vegas (the Bellagio), the Bahamas (Atlantis), and Venice (Chihuly Over Venice) have been viewed by millions of people. So, it should come as no surprise that when I first started looking at studio glass, I looked at Chihuly's work first.
In Charlotte, there's only one gallery (Jerald Melberg Gallery) that carries Chihuly's work. Since I wanted to see the widest possible selection of works, I decided that I would look seriously at Chihulys when I went out to Seattle in November 1998 to work on the Microsoft Office 2000 Beta; Chihuly is based in Seattle, so naturally there are quite a few places there where you can view or purchase his work.
I first saw this work at Foster/White's Kirkland location in November 1998. At the time, my first thought was "Wow, this is a seriously cool work of art." However, it wasn't until February 1999 that I returned to the gallery... when I did, I was informed that the gallery was about to start a new show of Chihuly's works (which was good), but that this work was going to be returned to Chihuly (which was bad, I thought). Before I missed my chance, I decided to acquire this work.
This set is 19" tall by 25" wide by 22" deep. There are 8 elements in all; 1 large blue-and-transparent element, and 7 smaller red elements. All of the elements have black lip wraps, and the red elements include some small, barely noticeable black swirls. The red elements are also transparent on their undersides. The whole set weighs something like ten pounds... the glass is very thin. When properly lit, this work glows like neon... it looks completely unearthly.
This set is particularly rare because two of the elements are signed by Chihuly... one element is signed "Chihuly 94", and another is signed "Chihuly 97". The reason for the 1997 signature is that three of the small red elements originally included in this work are no longer present, and were replaced by two new elements (the largest red element, and the "Chihuly 97" element) made in 1997.
The things I like best about this work are its simple, elegant lines, and the contrast between the royal blue and the red... this is a great combination of colors. This is definitely one of the most beautiful pieces of art I've ever seen. I've never seen another Chihuly quite like it.
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