Photo Blog: Chihuly

Love him or hate him, Chihuly’s home base is Seattle, Washington.

We spent some time at the Chihuly Museum near the Space Needle.

It’s jaw-dropping. The exhibits are just gorgeous.

Critics’ main criticism (the link contains a representative example) of Chihuly’s work is that it’s craft — and that it doesn’t have meaning in the art sense, so it isn’t actually art. There’s also a great deal of criticism based on the fact that Chihuly’s injuries mean that he blesses the glass created in his name, and apparently is involved in the design process, but he no longer directly makes the glass with which he is credited.

I talked about this a bit with the girls. Who has the rights to the canon of art, and what are the limits of artistic expression? What role does art criticism play?

Elizabeth says, “If people like it, then it should be art.”

Julianna says, “Since it was made from the imagination and it doesn’t have to be something realistic, that’s why I think it’s art.”

Elizabeth, “Does that mean that architecture is art?”

Julianna, “Architecture I’m not sure about. Architecture itself isn’t art, but there might be art in architecture. Would you consider our house at home a piece of art? I don’t. But the MoPOP Museum in Seattle, that’s totally art.”

Two views of MoPOP (From below and above)

Elizabeth “If it comes from the imagination, architecture included, even if they’re inspired by someone else, if there’s inspiration and imagination and you create it because you want to and not just because it’s a job or something, although your job can be art, you have to want to make it, and you have to like making it.” Elizabeth continued, “What I am saying is that the designer is the artist because that is the person who is inspired and using his or her imagination. Chihuly’s crafts people aren’t the artists unless they’re adding to or giving input into the design.”

Julianna agrees with her. Julianna thinks that the question of what is art is best answered by the artist. Elizabeth says that artists and the people who look at it should decide what constitutes art, but not the art critics, because they’re just stuck up snobs who think they know about art but don’t unless they’re artists themselves.” Julianna added, “And they probably art’nt.” HA HA HA (puns have been a theme in this family over the past few months).

But art or not — and personally I tend to think that art is about message, but that message may be as simple as sharing one’s perspective of the world’s beauty through form and color, which Chihuly certain does, extravagantly, in fact, in a way that seems to be a glassblower’s conversation with Matisse — it was mesmerizing. Judge for yourself, although my iPhone photos don’t even begin to do it justice.

And, of course, as a gardener, although Mike was most entranced by his interior designs, I was taken by the interplay between the glass and the plants in the garden. Of course, that begs the question: other than size and production-run counts, what is the fundamental difference between Chihuly and my pink flamingos and other whimsical garden statutes and glass orbs?

What do you think?

Is Chihuly’s work art?

Who gets to decide?

What is art, anyway?

As at the Chihuly Museum, however, before too long, Julie just wanted to return to her book.


One thought on “Photo Blog: Chihuly

  1. Hi Blaines,
    I have kept this post up on my computer for days, but have been so busy with many dance related events so have not been able to comment until now. I just want to tell you that this debate about what art is or is not has been raging for all eternity, and continues to today. In fact, I just had it again 2 weeks ago with a group of teachers in the context of the educational buzz around STEAM – science, technology, engineering, ART, and mathematics. I so enjoyed hearing your perspectives.
    Hope you’re having fun – we missed you, Sarah, at the book group dinner last night, and chose the book, The Soul of an Octopus. I am looking forward to reading it – I have heard that it is of a similar vein to my other current favorite, The Secret Life of Trees.
    Your friend,
    Miss Laura


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