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Dale Chihuly’s Blown Glass Masterpieces Return to the Desert

Dale Chihuly's blown glass creation
Dale Chihuly Sol del Citrón, 2014 14 x 14 x 14′ The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, installed 2017 © 2021 Chihuly Studio. All Rights Reserved.

Dale Chihuly’s visually stunning glass masterpieces return to the Sonoran Desert in spectacular fashion with a joint exhibition at the Desert Botanical Garden and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West from Dec. 3, 2021 through June 19, 2022.

Combining the art and architecture of desert flora with two of America’s most prolific artists, “Chihuly in the Desert” will leave guests feeling awed and inspired. Returning to the DBG but new to Taliesin West, Chihuly’s striking glass sculptures will be nestled among Wright’s iconic structures.

“With our World Heritage buildings and mountainous desert backdrop, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation presents its first exhibition of this kind, revealing how art, architecture and nature come together to connect our visitors more deeply with the world around them,” says Stuart Graff, president and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

We sat down with Graff to discuss the collaboration.

Q&A: Stuart Graff on the Return of Chihuly in the Desert

Taliesin West was architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and school in the desert from 1937 until his death in 1959 at the age of 91. Today it houses the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. 12621 N Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85259. Photo by Jill Richards.
Can you tell us about the Dale Chihuly exhibit at Taliesin West?

The stunning glass work of Dale Chihuly will be featured in and around the historic, inspired architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. This isn’t merely about putting sculpture into a historic setting; instead, we’ve worked with Chihuly Studios to integrate these monumental sculptural works within the framework of Wright’s design. Wright’s work has always been about creating a sense of continuity between architecture and nature, and he saw art as a critical, unifying component to his work—and that’s why this we’re so excited that this work is the first exhibition of its kind that we’ve presented at Taliesin West.

How do you think Chihuly’s work complements the existing aesthetic of Taliesin West and Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture?

Dale Chihuly and Frank Lloyd Wright are both truly American originals, inspired by nature, and particularly the Western landscapes, who have created new forms in ancient disciplines. Wright reimagined shelter—and indeed, the whole field of architecture—because of what he saw in those landscapes. Chihuly has done the same with glass. Chihuly Studio reached out to us because of these parallel visions, and the opportunity to experience them together offers us insight into how nature thrills, inspires, and even heals all of us.

Dale Chihuly's blown glass creation
Dale Chihuly Fire Amber Herons (detail), 2016 8 x 10 x 7′ Atlanta Botanical Garden © 2021 Chihuly Studio. All Rights Reserved.
What can guests expect when they visit the exhibition? Where is it staged at Taliesin West?

This exhibition is really an opportunity not just to see what Wright and Chihuly were doing in their work, but also to understand how that work emerges from the landscapes and from a respect for indigenous cultures. The works will permeate the Taliesin West historic core, with most of the sculptures outside among the buildings, but a very special piece in Wright’s Garden Room, too. That room has been the subject of new preservation efforts to give it the appearance that it had during Wright’s lifetime—something visitors haven’t seen in 50 years.

Is this the first time Taliesin West hosts an exhibition like this? Do you hope to do more in the future?

It is the first exhibition like this at Taliesin West, and we’re learning a lot by doing it that will help us to stage future exhibitions. Through work like this, we’re able to explore new ideas about how art and design fit into the architecture for better living that was the centerpiece of Wright’s career—connecting us with nature, art, and each other through inspired design. We look forward to presenting other artists in the future.

Do you have a favorite Chihuly sculpture?

We’ll have several pieces that are displayed in connection with water features that are a part of the Taliesin West design, and the energy that flows when Chihuly’s work captures light, reflects it on the water, and illuminates Wright’s buildings is spiritual.

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