Did you miss the Chihuly Exhibit at the MFA? Well its a good thing I took so many pictures then, isn’t it!
The work was absolutely amazing, and definitely lives up to all the hype, if you’re into sculpture. Chihuly’s work has been on display at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston as part of general admission since the spring, but of of course, I didn’t see it until the day before it closed, when it was absolutely packed. I woke up early to go wait in line for an hour before the museum even opened just to get in. But we did get in, and anyone who lined up after 11am, probably did not.
The work was totally fantastical. There seemed to be a theme of water throughout the show. Inspiration was drawn from boating, Venice, and native american arts. Even in the work that didn’t explicitly say it was related to water, I saw sea-creatures in. For me, everything looked like lilly pads, jellyfish, scallops, anemones, shell fist, and even plants that grow in wet soil. The work had so much life to it; the artist gave this hard, quite thick glass, a marvelous fluidity that made the whole exhibit feel like it was in aquarium.
The exhibit was set up in a series of environments with works that all related closely to one another in the same room. However there was also a larger thread, or current that connected all of the rooms together. Like a current in the ocean, all of the work was pulling you to the next room, each environment speaking to the one before it, and then sending you off to the next whimsical ecosystem.
The shapes and colors were out of this world, and pictures really can’t do it justice. Even the post cards in the gift shop were sub-par. I think that my photographs with my little point-and-shoot produced more accurate colors than those printed on the museum post cards. Anyway, I strongly suggest watching the slide show at the top of this post to get a sense of the scale and complexity of this exhibit. I took photos from several different angles, so that some of the images appear to move, and will give you more information about the space around the objects. Still, there is nothing like experiencing installation art first hand.
One of the features that I was most impressed with, is how well hidden the artist’s hand is in the work. I have seen flawless glass blown pieces before, but never in such irregular shapes. These things look like they grew out of one another, but without the slightest imperfection. Their shape and thickness is ideal and though the lines are all organic and have such great movement, the structures are repeated over and over again creating a strong pattern: a sense of order and structure within all the chaos. The exhibit was total over-stimulation, which demanded long, thoughtful observation in order to absorb anything.
The color was also extraordinary, and ever-changing. Transparent, translucent, and opaque glasses were all used, so the color of one item would bleed through another item and create a rainbow of different color combinations as the viewer moved through the piece. Every color under the sun was present, and the lights shining through the glass was bounced off all the irregular surfaces and lit up other pieces of glass in unexpected and dazzling ways. Even the spectators changed the pieces with their own reflections. The lights from cameras especially had a very cool way of changing the glass; in the picture below, the band of tiny blue lights in the center of the glass rods are the reflection of a single camera light.
Battling the crowds in the rain may have been exhausting, but the work was well worth it. I am really glad that I got to see this exhibit in person before it is gone forever. The sheer scale of the pieces makes you wonder how they can possibly be transported. I’m sure everything needs to come apart and be reassembled in each new location. So if that’s the case, is any installation ever quite the same?