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Making the Scene The Art of

Dan Dailey

S chant z G alleries c o n t e m p o r a r y

a r t

Dan Dailey is an artist who possesses a high respect for his medium and an intellectual curiosity about many aspects of life. While we are engaged with the beauty, elegance, and wry wit of the work, we begin to understand the undercurrent of deep respect for our culture and our humanity... the life experience we are all part of. We are honored and privileged to present this fantastic collection. Jim Schantz & Kim Saul


On the cover:


Illuminated Sculpture, 2008 41 x 31 x 15� Fabricated, patinated, nickel plated bronze with pate de verre and gold plated details. Blown glass shade. Anodized aluminum and Vitrolite mosaic base. Lampworked glass details.

Schantz Galleries

3 Elm Street, Stockbridge, M A 01262

413 298 3044

w w


Individuals Series, 2011 22¾ x 16 x 12¼ ”


Scenes Series 2011 Blown and hot worked glass, sandblasted and acid polished. Vitrolite glass. Fabricated nickel plated aluminum base.



“The scenes represent visions or thoughts as if they were staged dramatically. The figures (with reference to Jean Arp, Constantin Brancusi, and Henry Moore) interact with posed forms suggesting various relationships. There is deliberately ambiguous abstraction, as in our dreams, to invite personal interpretation of the scene. Glass has been exploited for its properties in ways that emphasize the figure forms and mystify the secondary forms. The application of lines on the blown forms, to emphasize movement and gesture, is based on typical glassblowing processes. The glass frits and rods, opaque and translucent glass, and mirrored surfaces are intended to characterize the images. The hollow glass forms, showing their volume, deliberately exploit the visual phenomena of glass. Color is applied in ways similar to watercolor, as in other blown forms I have made.


Scenes Series 2010 Blown and hot worked glass, sandblasted and acid polished. Acid polished mirror. Aluminum. 22 x 29½ x 5½”

The first scenes I have created are relatively organic, but other scenes may be geometric or have multiple parts or be circular instead of linear. I feel the concept is open ended and merits exploration. References to modernist sculpture and Jungian symbolic notions have provided the initial motivation for this work. “ Note: These comments refer to the two scenes in the Schantz catalog, as the format is evolving. ~Dan Dailey


Individuals Series 2011 25½ x 21½ x 8½”

The Art of Dan Dailey Dan Dailey’s glass art achieves a state of consummate balance; his process is defined by precision but his ideas spring from a more organic creative flow. He simultaneously embodies the seriousness of an expert technician, the perspicacity of the artist as social commentator, and the levity of a humorist. Combining different glass-making techniques like blowing, hot-working, lampworking, mosaic and pâte -de-verre, Dailey harmonizes the substantial with the ethereal and shows off glass’ potential for nuance. In his illuminated sculptures (something he first experimented with as a graduate student at RISD), he couples the industrial skills he learned making glass lamps at the Venini factory in Murano, Italy with an amusing lightness. His iconic individual busts, also technical feats, are composed of a series of clever clues and whimsical double entendres, all in service of the story each character tells. Painter Joseph Fernand Henri Léger (1881-1955; both Léger and Dailey worked in their time for renowned glass studio Cristallerie Daum, in Nancy, France) wrote that “the object in modern painting must become the main character and overthrow the subject. If, in turn, the human form becomes an object, it can considerably liberate possibilities for the modern artist.” Dailey, an avid observer of human gestures and demeanors, starts his glass sculptures of people with a series of sketches (a nod to a brief stint as a cartoonist, but mostly a springboard for the creative process). In one sense he is a Realist who capitalizes on the three-dimensional nature of his medium to bestow life-like attributes on recognizable and quotidian characters. At the same time, these characters are stylized sociological studies, not descriptive of real individuals but expressive of personality types and universal emotions. In Whisper (2009), the woman’s angled stance, cascading hair, and striped shirt create a sense of flow. Her contemplative face, turned cheek, and open ear listen to a secret that seems to have been carried by a gentle breeze. Variegated blues—from the frosty hat with its cerulean tip to the modulated colors of the shirt—contrast with the woman’s warm brown skin tones. A thoughtful demeanor is punctuated with the comedic interludes of her psychedelic mushroom hat and unnatural fingerlike locks. The gentle breeze of Whisper blows at a fever pitch in Breeze (2011), roiling the woman’s hair dramatically and nearly blowing her crazy hat off her head. The woman’s unperturbed face and nonchalance toward the viewer are evidence of her strength, while her stoic state of undress pays homage to classic nudes in statuary.

Art Official

Individuals Series 2011 25½ x 14 x 12½”


Individuals Series 2009 27 x 12 x 10"


Individuals Series 2011 13¾ x 22 x 14”

The wittily but cynically portrayed Art Official (2011) takes notes without actually looking at what is in front of him. The bust’s upturned collar and icy countenance conjure a sense of disdain—the official for the artist and the artist for the official. Dailey commented that “his collection of badges contains clues to aspects of art hierarchies and the consecration of certain works as important.” The bowler hat and jacket-and-tie recall Surrealist René Magritte (1898-1967), a witticist himself who championed the beauty of the ordinary but rejected the fussiness this art official represents. The critique of Art Official is offset by Dailey’s droll sense of expression, embodying what Charlie Chaplin (who was also known for his bowler hat) once said, that “humor is the ability to discern in a kindly way the folly in what is considered normal behavior, and to discern the discrepancy in what appears as truth.” Perspective (2011) is also a deft amalgam of social commentary and jocularity. The unusual pose of the mohawked man (bent in an upside-down v so that the main thing the viewer sees is the back of his head) and Dailey’s penchant for hyperbolic scale create a levity that belies the technical mastery of the work’s construction. Dailey exaggerates a pose of self-absorption to wryly condemn our inner-looking perspective on the world; by burying the man’s face and abstracting it so it does not represent any one person in particular, Dailey encourages us all to consider looking beyond ourselves. Also looking down is the character in Devotion (2011). Like many of Dailey’s individuals, she does not make direct eye-contact with the viewer but gazes down demurely. Her hand gesture is not a typical sign of prayer but does connote openness. Our curiosity is piqued by the precious but undefined thing she cups in her palm. Equally, the lack of racial or ethnic identifiers (as is the case with much of Dailey’s work) makes this a universal depiction of our relationship with the sacred. There is a quiet beauty to this work most effectively expressed in the luminous shirt, with its layers of color and texture fused together.


Illuminated Sculpture 2006 31 x 16½ x 8½” each Fabricated, patinated, nickel plated bronze with gold plated details. Blown glass globes, shades and finials. Lampworked glass details.

The radiant effect that Dailey achieves with glass is emphasized in his illuminated sculptures. More (2008) and Dazzlers (2006) are masterpieces of glass techniques such as mosaic, pâte -de-verre (a process the artist learned at Cristallerie Daum that gives a soft, satiny finish and involves making a paste out of glass, applying it to the surface of a mold, and firing it), lampworking, and the use of Vitrolite (an opaque glass tinted in various colors that was often used in Art Deco buildings, the material is no longer in production but Dailey owns a stockpile). Dailey combines the glasswork with electricity and metal, allowing the aesthetic potential of these materials to guide the creation of the work. As Dailey explains, “the flat sheets, round tubes, and machine elements of metal form a vocabulary which I choose to emphasize rather than disguise in my work.” More pairs Art Deco-like geometric composition with the exaggerated, dancing limbs of ancient Egyptian figures. The light source is a woman’s head, perhaps a metaphor for women as a source of light (and hence wisdom) in the world? Dazzlers (2006) couples a female sconce with her male counterpart, and is defined by similarly inspired geometric limbs moving in mirrored symmetry and basking in inner light. The warm light and natural coloration of the glass and metal in Owl Sconces (2010) allude to the rustic and comfortable Adirondack style. Here, a tongue-in-cheek reference is being made to the owl’s ability to see in the dark, to his heightened sense of vision and depth perception, and to his symbolic associations with wisdom. Dailey fluidly blends the careful attention to material and the need for perfection that his art demands with the abandon of the creative process. He echoes the Art Nouveau movement of which Cristallerie Daum was an important proponent, eschewing the strict dictums of 19th century academic art in favor more flowing motifs. But he also embraces the geometric symmetry of 1920s and 30s Art Deco, which was a reaction to Art Nouveau and which utilized stylized human and animal forms as much for their character as for their formal attributes. He incorporates the deliberate and careful choice of shapes and materials that defined the Modernists, and salutes the Bauhaus school, whose approach to design and craftsmanship was profoundly influential on studio glass. Dailey respects the inherent challenges of glass, and as a teacher of the art embodies openness in sharing his hard-earned knowledge. Above all, he is an artist who is influenced as much by painters as he is by glass artists, an artist who, through inquiry into the ever-fascinating personalities, essences, quirks, and mysteries of human and animal nature, ultimately seeks to create a fulfilling and communicative object or image. Jeanne Koles is an art historian who writes for museums and the cultural sector in New England.

Making the Scene The Art of

Dan Dailey

Owl Sconces

Illuminated Sculpture, 2010 10½” H x 7” D each Fabricated, patinated, copper and gold plated brass and bronze. Blown glass shades. Lampworked glass details.

“...above all, he is an artist who is influenced as much by painters as he is by glass artists, an artist who, through inquiry into the ever-fascinating personalities, essences, quirks, and mysteries of human and animal nature, ultimately seeks to create a fulfilling and communicative object or image.”

S chant z G alleries c o n t e m p o r a r y

a r t

Schantz Galleries 3 Elm Street, Stockbridge, M A 01262 413 298 3044 w w

a Schantz Galleries Publication Photography: Bill Truslow Essay: Jeanne Koles

Making the Scene - the Art of Dan Dailey  
Making the Scene - the Art of Dan Dailey  

Dan Dailey is an artist who possesses a high respect for his medium and an intellectual curiosity about many aspects of life. While we are e...