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PHOTO GALLERY: Chihuly at Biltmore

J. H. Osborne • Jun 17, 2018 at 8:30 AM

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Biltmore is hosting its first ever art exhibition in its historic gardens, featuring the works of globally renowned Dale Chihuly.

A leader in the development of glass as a fine art, Chihuly is celebrated for large architectural installations that have captivated viewers around the U.S. and throughout the world. The estate’s multiple gardens, each with a unique style of landscaping and considered showstoppers on their own, make the perfect settings for 16 dramatic, large-scale sculptures that combine brilliant colors and striking forms — taking advantage of the living backdrop designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, known as the father of American landscape architecture.

The event, which runs through October 7 and is included with daytime admission, is Chihuly’s first North Carolina garden exhibition. Each of the of the vivid installations is highlighted by a complementary landscape design created by Biltmore’s horticulture team in collaboration with the Chihuly team. Work began on the project more than two years ago.

The gardens are open on select evenings for the first time ever during reservation-only Chihuly Nights at Biltmore (separate admission required). At nightfall, the pieces of art are dramatically illuminated to showcase their colors and shapes.

Some of what you will discover, if you go, include:

• The front lawn features a glistening representation of the sun.

• Inside Biltmore House (America’s largest private single-family home) the Winter Garden provides the backdrop for gold and white forms conjuring visions of sea life and reflecting Chihuly’s love of Venice.

• The Italian Garden is home to three installations, including a boat filled with multicolored glass spheres inspired by Japanese fishing floats.

• In the Shrub Garden, Red Reeds — ranging from 6 to 10 feet high — form a striking installation.

• The Walled Garden presents two vibrant Towers — one of which was created for the Biltmore setting.

• The glass Conservatory is the setting for dramatic chandeliers — one of Chihuly’s most iconic series — comprised of glass forms in varying, elegant hues.

• Two installations welcome guests to Antler Hill Village & Winery.

If you go

Dress comfortably and don’t forget the sunscreen and/or a hat. Only one installation is inside Biltmore House. The rest are in the gardens. The day we visited, it took us nearly three hours to walk the entire length of the gardens necessary to view each installation — not counting the two at Antler Hill Village & Winery. Plan to spend the day if possible and allow yourself time to take breaks and go back and view various installations at different times of day, as the change in light can give you different experiences over the course of the day. We didn’t do the evening tour (yet), but heard from many other guests that it is spectacular and not to be missed. For ticket prices, visit www.biltmore.com. 

About the artist

Chihuly is known for revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement. Over his 50-year career, he has become known for his iconic glass sculptures, but glass is just one of the media he employs to realize his vision. He also draws, paints and sculpts using other materials. Chihuly is renowned for his ambitious architectural installations around the world, in historic cities, museums and gardens. His work is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Corning Museum of Glass. Major exhibitions include Chihuly Over Venice (1995-96), Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem (1999), de Young Museum in San Francisco (2008), the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2011), Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond (2012) and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (2013.) Chihuly Garden and Glass opened at Seattle Center in 2012. For more information, visit chihuly.com, Facebook.com/Chihuly and @ChihulyStudio.

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