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Chihuly at the de Young

Chihuly at the de Young

As you undoubtedly know by now, I’m nothing if not an admirer of empty virtuosity. The sensory disco of blazing colors and blinking lights, of leaping, vibrating, ever-changing hues and forms, of pure sensory attractions experienced apart from external ideals, are to me the pure expression of delight in art and life itself.

I love Vegas. I love Bollywood cinema. I love molten lava as it crashes down a mountain side. I love exotic fishes and rare birds and those telescopic photos that show the universe as it existed billions of years ago. And I love the art of Dale Chihuly.

One might ask if Chihuly’s collection of colorful, fantastically-shaped blown glass belongs in so august a setting as the de Young (where it is housed in exhibition through September 28), but for me there is no doubt. A great museum encompasses a wide variety of art — some of it highly cerebral, some of it less so. Today Chihuly, tomorrow Gerhard Richter and the next day Classical Greece, all of it teaching different things and creating different experiences.

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To me, Chihuly’s work taps into the weirdness of nature, and its ability to often surprise and please at the same time. His best work is a surprise and a pleasure that, with familiarity, melds into the world around us as if created by nature herself.


  • Chihuly at the de Young: objects and installations in glass, plus works on paper.
  • De Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.
  • $5 surcharge, above museum admission, applies for timed entry tickets to the exhibition.
  • (415) 750-3600,

Photos: Jim Herd []

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