Chihuly's “The Nature of Glass” exhibit at the Phoenix Botanical Gardens is packing in the crowds. Coupled with the Noche de las Luminarias event, opening night was a mad house. While Chihuly’s crowd pleasing abilities are certainly indisputable, I can't decide which side of the fence I’m on about Chihuly and his manufactured art.
His exhibits are so far flung across the world that I wonder about the artistic integrity of the work. He doesn't blow the glass. He doesn't install it. The staff that installs the glass often needs to improvise to get the pieces to fit the landscape or current conditions - as we were told by one of the Garden's staff who witnessed the 4 week long installation period.
Don't get me wrong. I love the finished product, but is it really a "Chihuly"? Other artists have been questioned along these lines; Degas is one of the most controversial. Although well-loved and always popular at museums and gift shops, you never really know if that bronze statue of the ballerina is really one he cast or simply one of the many copies floating around the world made from his mold.
I'd like to hear how you feel about Chihuly's process and if it stands up to your definition of an artist. Or is this The Great Art Glass Swindle?
Leave your comment and let us know.