Chihuly: In the Light of Jerusalem

The Tower of David Museum (the Citadel)


Jerusalem holds a unique place in the consciousness of the western world: it

is the birthplace of monotheism and the world’s great spiritual center. At

the Jaffa Gate entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City stands the Tower of David

and the 700-year old Citadel, built on a site that was pivotal to the city’s

fortifications for 2,700 years. It stands between east and west, and between

old and new, at the heart of 4,000 years of history and the development of

the world’s three major monotheistic religions.


Today, the Citadel houses The Tower of David Museum of the History of

Jerusalem, which recounts Jerusalem’s history with a balanced focus on the

importance and significance of the city to the world’s three major

monotheistic religions. The Citadel is also well known as a place for

cultural and educational activities, including concerts, special art

installations and other unique events.


A Fusing of Ancient and Modern Art Forms: Chihuly In Jerusalem

The tower of David Museum is proud to be mounting an exhibition of glass

installations by the American artist Dale Chihuly, the world’s premiere

artist whose medium is glass.


Four thousand years ago, the Canaanites, living in this region, made glass

beads. But their material was incidental to the form created, and often the

glass was made to look like marble, which was more highly prized. Two

thousand years later, in the eastern Mediterranean, man discovered how to

blow glass and began to create forms which made glass-its properties and

nature-central to the created work. For the two thousand years following,

artists have been exploring the possibilities of shaping glass into fragile

forms. Yet no one has brought it to a higher level of creativity than

Chihuly. In exploring the sculptural potential of glass, Chihuly has

confounded expectations, shattered boundaries, and expanded the scale and

uses of glass with fanciful technique, historical reference, aggressive

shapes, and luscious forms.


Chihuly was drawn to Israel after a brief visit in the summer of 1997, and

was struck by its importance as the birthplace of both glassmaking and

glassblowing. Early glass works found in Israel strongly resemble Chihuly’s

organic forms. He hopes to create artworks that are both an homage to the

ancient glass traditions of the Middle East and an impetus to revitalize

glassmaking in the area. As in his other projects, Chihuly will collaborate

with glassblowers from the region, both Israeli and Palestinian, to produce

a portion of the glass parts for his sculptures. This message of coexistence

is particularly suited to the Citadel’s mission to recount objectively and

fairly all the periods of Jerusalem’s history.


A Jewish legend relates that ten measures of beauty were given to the world

at the time of its creation. Jerusalem received nine of them. To this day,

beauty is at the heart of this city; in its spiritual importance; in its

merging of old and new; in the incredible golden quality of its light.

Surely, Chihuly’s encounter with Jerusalem was inevitable. The mounting of

his installations over the city will be a fitting celebration of the

millennium, and herald the next two thousand years of artistry in glass.


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