ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Glass Gardens- Walking Amongst the Chihuly Sculptures at Biltmore House

Updated on November 25, 2019
cholt profile image

When I'm not being a photographer, a dancer, or making jewelry, I write. Specifically art history. I plan on writing about other subjects.

Chihuly at Biltmore House

Click thumbnail to view full-size
"Sole d'Oro" 2017 (Detail) Front Lawn."Sole d'Oro" 2017 (Detail) Front Lawn.
"Sole d'Oro" 2017 (Detail) Front Lawn.
"Sole d'Oro" 2017 (Detail) Front Lawn. | Source
"Sole d'Oro" 2017 (Detail) Front Lawn.
"Sole d'Oro" 2017 (Detail) Front Lawn. | Source

What I saw (and was unable to see)

I went to see Chihuly's temporarily installed sculptures at the Biltmore Estate. There were Chihuly works inside Biltmore House but the ticket I had only allowed me to see the gardens. I believe there was another sculpture far beyond Biltmore, but I was so exhausted from walking around the main gardens and the conservatory, I never visited that one. I don't think I even remember learning about that one until after I left Asheville.

So, about the Chihuly sculptures themselves. They curl, swell, wave, wriggle, make reflections in water, create shadows, shoot up straight into the sky, or curl down to (or away from) the viewer.

Curl up, down, and to the side, explode, swell, wave, wriggle, and shoot up

Click thumbnail to view full-size
"Sole d'Oro" 2017 (Detail) Front Lawn."Niijima Floats" 2005 (Detail) Italian Garden."Red Reeds" 2008 Shrub Garden."Citron, Amber, and Teal Chandelier" 2009 (Detail) Conservatory."Red Reeds" (Detail) Rose Garden.
"Sole d'Oro" 2017 (Detail) Front Lawn.
"Sole d'Oro" 2017 (Detail) Front Lawn. | Source
"Niijima Floats" 2005 (Detail) Italian Garden.
"Niijima Floats" 2005 (Detail) Italian Garden. | Source
"Red Reeds" 2008 Shrub Garden.
"Red Reeds" 2008 Shrub Garden. | Source
"Citron, Amber, and Teal Chandelier" 2009 (Detail) Conservatory.
"Citron, Amber, and Teal Chandelier" 2009 (Detail) Conservatory. | Source
"Red Reeds" (Detail) Rose Garden.
"Red Reeds" (Detail) Rose Garden. | Source

How were the Chihuly sculptures installed?

Walking around, I noticed that the glass art complemented the many locations they were installed in. Most of them stood out, but a few almost disappeared into the environment. I also noticed certain visual patterns were created as a result of the way these artworks were situated. For example, the work Sole d'Oro that was placed at Biltmore Estate's Front Lawn? I think it was meant to complement the Diana Temple found at the opposite end of the Estate.

This pattern continued in the Italian Garden with another Chihuly sculpture (Palazzo Ducal Tower) that created a triangular outline with two Neoclassical sculptures belonging to the Biltmore Estate. Other sculptures such as these large bright globes (Niijima Nights) and long glass purple rods installed in the ponds complemented the lotus flowers and green lily pads that floated nearby. When I saw those same globes at night, someone I was with noted that the planets were out (the moon was out too). Looking at the patterned globes at my feet and the planets twinkling in the night sky above, I wondered if that was intentional.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, most of the sculptures were installed in such a way to make them stand out of their respective environments. To elaborate, there were many sculptures consisting of long bright red tubes (Red Reeds) that either stood ramrod straight or were wavy amongst green grass and green trees. However, if one was at the Walled Garden, you had to look down to find green sculpture, because they were practically camouflaged amongst the green flora and almost overwhelmed by the other bright, colored glass sculptures.

Biltmore's conservatory is full of greenhouses (plus hot houses and cool houses) that have Chihuly sculptures hanging above one's head. Compared to the other sculptures, they are almost subdued with their light green, yellow, and pink color schemes. Were they meant to reflect the greenhouse skylines rather than the actual plants housed there? I do not know.

What do Chihuly sculptures remind you of?

Click thumbnail to view full-size
"Niijima Floats" 2005 (Detail)    Italian Garden"Carnival Boat" 2012 (Detail) Italian Garden"Citron, Amber, and Teal Chandelier" 2009 (Detail) Conservatory"Pergola Garden Fiori" 2018 (Detail). Walled Garden
"Niijima Floats" 2005 (Detail)    Italian Garden
"Niijima Floats" 2005 (Detail) Italian Garden | Source
"Carnival Boat" 2012 (Detail) Italian Garden
"Carnival Boat" 2012 (Detail) Italian Garden | Source
"Citron, Amber, and Teal Chandelier" 2009 (Detail) Conservatory
"Citron, Amber, and Teal Chandelier" 2009 (Detail) Conservatory | Source
"Pergola Garden Fiori" 2018 (Detail). Walled Garden
"Pergola Garden Fiori" 2018 (Detail). Walled Garden | Source

Visual interpretations

Chihuly sculptures are such three dimensional Rorschach tests that one's mind can think of so many things. A cluster of Chihuly glass can resemble a frozen explosion. Or look similar to scientific illustrations of concepts that are invisible to the naked eye. Or symbols used by meteorologists to predict the weather. One set of wavy red tubes in front of the conservatory reminded me of heat waves. To emphasize this point, when I visited the exhibit during the daytime, it was a hot day with a bright blue sky and equally bright white clouds.

In the Italian Garden's ponds, there were Chihuly sculptures that burst with color and had varying shapes and sizes. In one pond, there were two boats (Float Boat and Carnival Boat) filled with Chihuly glass art. One filled with glass globes and the other filled with more diverse shapes that called to mind food (such as fruit and vegetables) from Baroque still lifes.

In the Walled Garden, there are multiple busts of godly (or possibly just human) beings (the grape crowned one was very likely Bacchus) and below them were long shapes that varied between flat, thin, tube shaped, and fat. Furthermore, they all looked as though they were reaching up towards the busts. I have been reading Lovecraft, and this reminded me of Lovecraft's descriptions of ancient abandoned ruined cities filled with tentacled beings and strange architecture.

Biltmore's Exterior

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Beyond Chihuly

On the Biltmore art and architecture that will stay long after the Chihuly sculptures are taken down. According to the official website, this immense house is a "French Renaissance chateau". However, I did notice that the house’s exterior is full of Gothic touches with its designs and sculptures of men looking over people visiting Biltmore, but the gardens have these East Asian (Japanese, according to to this article) and Neoclassical accents. Stone lanterns and sculptures of Greek gods stand either stoic, peaceful, or dance about the mountain landscape that descends into a blue color scheme. When you drive through the immense landscape of the Biltmore property, you will see a substantial amount of bamboo trees.

Neoclassical Accents

Click thumbnail to view full-size

But did you like it?

Yes, I did. Chihuly sculptures are always a delight to look at no matter what context they are placed in. Regarding some sculptures that melded in with the environment, I think they could have done a better job installing them so one would not accidentally overlook them. Furthermore, because I forgot to write the names down, I had to look up the names of the works on official websites and other reviews of the exhibit.

Update 12-6-18

I decided to rewrite the title to this article.

© 2018 Catherine


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)