Chihuly Glass in the Biltmore Landscape

General / People / Places / September 28, 2018

The 15-installation exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s work at Biltmore Estate is the result of two years of planning, collaboration and execution.

Teams from the Chihuly Studio and Biltmore worked hand-in-glove to make the exhibit a reality. “Initially they reached out to us, but Dale has a lifelong love of gardens and the gardens at Biltmore are a national treasure,” says Britt Cornett, director of exhibitions for Chihuly Studio for the past 12 years. “When the opportunity presented itself, we jumped at the chance to work there.”

Some of the sculptures weigh a couple of thousand-pound apiece, and each required its own lighting plan. “We collaborated leading up to the exhibit, and on-site, to place the sculpture and the details around that,” she says.

That’s especially true of The Sun, sited directly in front of Biltmore House. “There are a foundation and infrastructure to support the weight of the artwork,” she says. “We were going back and forth, taking the weather into consideration, but there was nothing we couldn’t overcome.”

The design process began with the Chihuly team’s first site visit. Several months went by, with multiple phone conversations, and also with Dale putting his thoughts down and selecting the works to be exhibited – some new and some existing.

“Inside is a new composition that takes its inspiration from a project Dale did in 1996 – with chandeliers hung over different canals and piazzas in Venice,” she says. “He wanted to utilize it again in a different space and there was also interest from the Biltmore team import to work with a specific palette in the Winter Garden area inside.”

Outside, the landscape may enhance the artwork, but Cornett says the opposite is true as well. “People come to see the gardens and see it in different way and the same is true for the art – they’re coming to see that see the art in different ways,” she says.

So how many pieces of glass are contained in the entire exhibition? “There’s no way of knowing, but it’s safe to say thousands,” she says. “There are 15 installation sites, some with over a thousand forms in them, and others are in groupings of 11 to 12.”

Many are nothing short of breath-taking. But to see them all, potential visitors will want to make plans now.

The exhibition closes on Oct. 7, to make way for the ever-popular “Christmas at Biltmore.”

For more, go here.

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Michael Welton

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