Gasps as V&A glass artwork shatters
The Guardian (London, England) Monday July 16, 2001
Byline: Tania Branigan
One of Dale Chihuly's glass sculptures at the Victoria and Albert
His work is treasured by Elton John, Bill Gates and the Clintons for its vibrant colour and delicacy. But an electrician at the Victoria and Albert Museum has proved less appreciative of Dale Chihuly's work and dashed one of his blown-glass sculptures to the floor.
Chihuly's hugely ambitious works, which are influenced by Venetian glass making, are renowned by art lovers. His larger pieces sell for hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The accident, witnessed by horrified gallery staff, happened as outside contractors set up a temporary display last week in the gallery housing the Chihuly exhibition. A workman carrying staging knocked against a plinth bearing the work. The shell-like bowl from the Macchia series broke on crashing to the floor - it was thought to have been worth about £35,000.
The artist particularly prizes the works because of the technical difficulty of combining the vivid colours. He created several pieces especially for the show, his first big exhibition in the UK, which runs until the end of October. The piece that ended up shattered was on loan from his studio, but the costs will be borne by the contracting company, which has admitted liability.
"It was a very unfortunate accident, but I think it was exceptional circumstances," said a V&A spokeswoman. "The curators have been in touch with the Chihuly studio and their first concern was that nobody was hurt."
She added that the museum would take another look at how it displayed the exhibits which were not already in cases or behind ropes.
The last time Chihuly's works caused this much of a stir was when the
Clintons took gifts - regarded by others as the nation's property -
with them when they left the White House. These included two glass sculptures,
together worth almost £43,000