You may already be familiar with Dale Chihuly’s work if you’ve seen one of his masterful art glass sculptures in one of the 250 museums globally that feature his work. In fact, he’s credited with elevating studio glass from the realm of craft to fine artistry. Chihuly has undertaken ambitious site-specific architectural installations around the world, but the medium of a store window was new to him. The artist’s first store window installation—on view now at Barneys New York’s Madison Avenue location as part of our Chillin’ Out holiday—is titled “Winter Brilliance,” an apt name for a stunning study in ice formations.
Barneys’ Creative Director Dennis Freedman was initially drawn to Chihuly’s work after seeing one of his outdoor pieces, “Icicle Creek Chandelier,” which is a permanent installation two hours outside of Chilhuly’s home base in Seattle. The piece was Chihuly’s first use of the icicle-shaped element when he created it nearly 20 years ago, and he revisits this shape and form throughout “Winter Brilliance.”
In contemplating the display window format, Chihuly kept the very public, sidewalk-cruising audience front of mind. “I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in some way that they’ve never experienced,” Chihuly told us. And judging by initial reactions, he’s certainly achieved this goal. Featuring more than 700 hand-blown glass elements, the piece represents frigid winters and takes the form of a grand crystalline explosion set above a reflecting pool. The final result gives the impression of ice crystals frozen midair.
Bringing further impact to the piece is its dramatic light show, created in tandem with Christie THREE SIXTY. Audiences experience an interpretation of fire and ice as vibrant colors are projected onto his sculpture by digital projectors and choreographed lighting effects created through digital mapping, the use of which was a first for the artist. Colors range from the red hot, representing the extreme temperatures Chihuly utilizes in the creation of his hand-blown pieces to icy cold, drawing from the season’s theme.
“I like to say I work with four materials of any scale—glass, plastic, water, and ice. But it is really light that makes those materials come alive,” he said. “Color and glass is different than color and anything else. It has to do with light penetrating through it.”
“Winter Brilliance” is on display now through January 3 at our Madison Avenue flagship. Check back over the coming days for more details about the partnerships behind our other amazing holiday windows, but in the meantime, be sure to head to Barneys to see this once-of-a-kind piece in person.