Dale Chihuly is a magician and he’s taken over the museum. The American glass-worker makes shapes and objects of a complexity and scale hitherto unknown in blown glass. But his talent isn’t just technical – a stroll through the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts will make it clear that he creates entire worlds…
There are various environments on display at the MMFA until October 20, courtesy of Chihuly, starting with the giant spikey sunburst that greets viewers on the museum steps. The exhibition, Chihuly: Utterly Breathtaking – his first solo in Canada – is located in the museum’s historical wing on the north side of Sherbrooke Street, which is a beautiful context for his work, because as contemporary as the shapes and installations he creates may be, the material of glass is imbued with layers of history that contrasts beautifully with aged marble.
Look up as you walk up the museum stairs, and you’ll see the beautiful floral formations of Persian Colonnade, one of the artist’s most famous works, from 2008. Let it be known that Chihuly is one of the only glass artists worldwide to have solo exhibition in major institutions.
In this exhibition you’ll find gigantic boats floating on a see of darkness and filled to the brim with glass creatures – or are they plants? – each emanating its individual personality; stalagmite-style creations in turquoise or pale pink; and of course, the otherworldly Mille Fiori, the star of the show, a 2012 pond installation out of which blossoms 5-foot-high water plants and flowers. Gaze at it long enough and you’ll feel like it’s moving.
Don’t miss a series of films the museum is putting on in link with the exhibition throughout the summer, in both English and French, including Chihuly Short Cuts 1 on July 3 at 6 pm, Chihuly Short Cuts 2 on July 17 at 6 pm, Chihuly Fire and Light on August 14 at 6 pm, and Chihuly in the Hotshop on August 21 at 6 pm. All for free.
Chihuly: Utterly Breathtaking, Until October 20, 2013
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1380 Sherbrooke Street West, (514) 285-2000