Dale Chihuly

Dale Chihuly is an Internationally renowned American glass artist known for his innovative and intricate glass sculptures and installations. He was born on September 20, 1941, in Tacoma, Washington, USA. Chihuly’s early life played a significant role in shaping his career as an artist, here are some key points.

Family Background

Dale Chihuly was raised in a middle-class family in Tacoma, Washington. His father worked as a meatpacker and union organiser, while his mother was a homemaker.

Early Interest in Art

Chihuly developed an early interest in art and began working with glass in the early 1960s while studying interior design at the University of Washington in Seattle. During this time, he had the opportunity to work at the Venini glass factory in Venice, Italy, which ignited his passion for glassblowing.


After completing his undergraduate studies, Chihuly pursued a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in ceramics at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

Founding Pilchuck Glass School

In 1971, Chihuly co-founded the Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington. This school played a crucial role in the development of the American studio glass movement, providing a space for artists to experiment and collaborate with glass as a medium.

Artistic Influences

Chihuly was influenced by various artistic movements and styles, including the Murano Italian glassblowing tradition, Native American art, and the Studio Glass Movement. His work often combines traditional glassblowing techniques with contemporary artistic concepts.

Career Development

Dale Chihuly’s early career was spent in experimentation and innovation in glass art, which resulted in the production of his best-known series of glass sculptures, including the iconic Macchia and Persian series.

International Recognition

Over the years, Chihuly’s work has gained international acclaim, and he has become one of the world’s best known and most prominent glass artists. Here are just six of his most famous and widely recognised works and projects.

Chihuly’s body of work extends far beyond these few examples, and his contributions to the world of glass art are extensive and influential.

Here are some lesser-known facts about Dale Chihuly:

Early Interest in Interior Design:

Before becoming a renowned glass artist, Chihuly initially pursued a degree in interior design at the University of Washington. His interest in design played a role in his creative approach to glass art and sculpture.

Inspiration from Indigenous Art:

Chihuly has drawn inspiration from indigenous art and cultures around the world. In particular, he has been influenced by Native American art, and some of his works incorporate elements reminiscent of Native American basketry and design.

Innovation in Glassblowing:

Chihuly is known for his innovative techniques in glassblowing. He introduced the concept of the “team approach” to glassblowing, where he works closely with a team of skilled artisans who help bring his intricate and large-scale designs to life.

Blind in One Eye:

In 1976, Chihuly was involved in a car accident in which he lost vision in one eye after being struck by a metal rod. Despite this life changing injury for any artist working in any medium, he continued to create glass art and adapted his techniques to accommodate his visual impairment.

Collections in Unusual Places:

Chihuly’s work can be found in some unexpected places. In addition to galleries and museums and private homes his glass sculptures have been displayed in unique locations such as botanical gardens, casinos, and even underwater. For example, his glass installations have been featured in underwater settings like aquariums and also Venice during his “Chihuly Over Venice” in 1996, see 5 on previous page.

After looking at some of the images of Dale’s huge installations and projects you would be forgiven for thinking that owning a piece is only possible for the elite collector with deep pockets and lots of space! Happily, Dale makes some beautiful table size and smaller single pieces that all use the exact same wonderfully uplifting ‘hot’ colours and flowing shapes. The first Exhibition of Dale’s work I saw was at the Halcyon Gallery London in January 2108. I remember being blown away by the vibrancy of his colours and the sheer energy and scale of the larger pieces and the gem like qualities of the smaller works which were all beautifully displayed in elegant glass display cases.

Chihuly’s works come up at auction fairly regularly and also appear on the art selling sites, Artsy and 1st Dibs, I have made a small selection of auction sales with prices and estimates as a guide and some currently available pieces for sale on these two main selling sites, which I hope will further wet your appetite for works by the master of glass, Dale Chihuly.

Posted in Art and Sculpture, Jonathan Horwich News, News.