Image courtesy of Dan Dailey. Photo: Bill Truslow.

Dan Dailey

American artist Dan Dailey (1947– ) uses glass and metal to create sculpture and functional art, including illuminated lamps. He received his BFA from the Philadelphia College of Art (now University of the Arts) in 1969, before studying glass with Dale Chihuly at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), earning his MFA in 1972. From 1973 to 2012, Dailey taught at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, where he founded and led the glass department. Additionally, Daily has taught at such institutions as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, RISD, Pilchuck Glass School, and the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and he has given lectures and workshops internationally. Since the beginning of his career, he has completed over 70 architectural commissions. Daily maintains an active studio in New Hampshire.


Yorkville from Cane Mural series, 2019. Glass cane. Anodized aluminum. H: 21.5 in, W: 29 in, D: 2 in. Image courtesy of Dan Dailey. Photo: Bill Truslow

Aquamotion from Circus Vase series, 2018. Blown glass, sandblasted and acid polished. Fabricated, patinated, nickel and gold-plated bronze. Pate de verre and lampwork glass details. H: 45 in, W: 26 in, D: 17 in. Image courtesy of Dan Dailey. Photo: Bill Truslow

Perspective from Individuals series, 2011. Blown glass, sandblasted and acid polished. Anodized aluminum. H: 13.75 in, W: 22 in, D: 14 in. Image courtesy of Dan Dailey. Photo: Bill Truslow

Dan Dailey discusses meeting Lino Tagliapietra at Pilchuck.

Playing01:48 Transcript
Dan Dailey

Dan Dailey discusses meeting Lino Tagliapietra at Pilchuck School of Glass. Oral history interview with Dan Dailey by Barb Elam, April 26, 2018, Bard Graduate Center. Clip length: 01:48.

Dan Dailey: Let’s see. I met Lino at Pilchuck. I was teaching a class. Ben Moore had invited Checco Ongaro to come to the school to—Venetian glassblower from Venini, and Checco—I already knew Checco cause I worked at Venini. But Checco came one summer and then deci—he got invited to come back. He said he couldn’t come, but he said, ‘What about taking my brother-in-law, who is Lino.’ Lino went, and when he came—I don’t know if that was the summer I met him or not. I think it could be the one after. Whatever it was, I speak Italian—they wanted him to be more involved in a class situation so Lino came with Lina  [Ongaro-Tagliapietra] and they were there for the whole class, and I would translate or make it as much as possible a dual lecture as much as a dual demo because the things that we were making were one thing, but people need time to talk and, so—it was good to be able to interact with the students that way—you know, interpret their questions to him—and the other way around—his comments. So I liked working with Lino and I was connected with Haystack [Haystack Mountain School of Crafts] at that time, on their board and so on, and I taught classes there too, so I invited Lino to teach a class with me at Haystack And I also asked Milton Glaser to come up during that time to Haystack, so that we were there, all in this kind of workshop. You know, Haystack’s a much different type of school—not class dedicated—and not so facility concentrated, very flexible studios, and minimal too. But, I think Lino appreciated the crudeness of that facility and what its purpose was to promote exchange and development of ideas and so on.


Dan Dailey speaks about his time at Venini on a Fulbright Scholarship.

Playing2:18 Transcript
Dan Dailey

Dan Dailey speaks about his time at Venini on a Fulbright scholarship. Oral history interview with Dan Dailey by Barb Elam, April 26, 2018, Bard Graduate Center. 02:18.

Dan Dailey: Well Venini—for me, it was a real eye opener. I had a Fulbright, I was going to stay in Italy for a year, and I just settled down in Venice got some kind of a studio together in this pretty large apartment that I rented—at least three rooms dedicated to drawing and model making and putting together things that I’ve made parts for in the factory cause I made a lot of lamps. And then—I went to the factory every day, on weekdays. And so I got to know a lot of people. They were very helpful. They would give me a bench—let me use any color. And then sometimes the—Ludvico Santiano who was the director, would allow me to have some blowers make parts for me for something I was thinking, then I would share my drawings with them. Everybody was extremely encouraging and helpful and inquisitive. People, like, I remember one time when I was working on something combining some colors, and the guy who—you’d see sweeping the floors and loading the annealers came over to me and said Dan—they called me Dieci because they thought Dan was ‘ten’—number ten. Dieci is ten in Italian. So they thought I was the tenth kid. They called me Dieci—some of them did. So anyway, he came over and said to me, ‘Dieci, you’re using the wrong green.’ And I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘That green is not soft enough. You gotta use this green.’ He showed me—went over and showed me something and I said, ‘Okay, I’ll try.’ And he was right. So to have the factory guy be critiquing my palette was an astonishing thing. Their engagement with the—it’s not just a job. There’s something about—they live it. They’re into it—in the details and they feel things in a very sensual way. The reason somebody’s a maestro is because they have a very—the touch is just right, they’ve got control—they can be strong when they have to and then let back when they need to and all the balance is there. And it’s a subtle thing to practice and practice, and it’s just totally different there. So that was what I gained from that experience.


Dan Dailey discusses his time in Venini, where he made lamps.

Playing1:28:00 Transcript
Dan Dailey

Dan Dailey discusses his time at Venini. Oral history interview with Dan Dailey by Barb Elam, April 26, 2018, Bard Graduate Center. 01:28.

Dan Dailey: You know, I went to Venini, very interested in what was going in Italian design, more in say furniture in Milan than in—and my—I made lamps while I was there, and I was mostly interested in making some things that to me would be based on my sense of—not what Italian design looked like at the time, but what I thought could be my—I don’t know—not contribution, but my take on the attitudes of the designers there. It was very experimental, very colorful, kind of playful, and, to me, open ended. And so in retrosp—I mean at the end I realized, well, I sort of totally blew it, cause my stuff was way too crazy. And not paying attention to the subtleties of their product—Venini’s product. It’s just, I wasn’t interested in the glassblowing side of it, and how to be a better glassblower, but a lot of my friends who went—kind of picked up techniques or, you know, in a sense based what they did later on things that they were taught or things they observed and tried. So I just didn’t have that same reason for being there.


Dan Dailey questions the ”wow factor” prevalent in live glassblowing demonstrations.

Playing1:40 Transcript
Dan Dailey

Dan Dailey questions the ”wow factor” in live glassblowing demonstrations. Oral history interview with Dan Dailey by Barb Elam, April 26, 2018, Bard Graduate Center. 01:40.

Dan Dailey: These people would stay there and watch them make something and put in the annealer when you’re done. And then they’d clap and over and over again, it made me wonder, ‘Well, what’s to clap about?’ You know, it’s like such an odd phenomenon. And I do understand that what everybody refers to as “the magic” of the material or the, you know, it’s a compelling material. You like to watch it. It’s a liquid that comes together as a solid, it becomes colorful as it cools down and all these things. It’s moving around, it’s shiny, it’s hot, you can’t touch it directly. So there are many things about it that make it, ‘Wow, how do you do that?’ you know—‘Wow.’ So the wow factor I think dominates what the heck is it that you are making, and I feel like the thing that you’re making, the idea you are trying to articulate is far more important than the process, and I don’t care if I do it myself or not. I’ll be happy to make a drawing and see it done and maybe stand right there or even push on it or say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, let’s do this,’ or ‘I changed my mind,’ you know? Let’s take advantage of this thing that I didn’t think of because I’m watching the form develop, and let’s stop it right here and start over again or do something a little different, so working that way, that with that, remove I’ve found that I have much more control in a way of the way my thoughts are coming out as objects.


Dan Dailey discusses Lino Tagliapietra severing ties with the Murano glass community in a recording for Paul Hollister (c. 1989-1990).

Playing03:13 Transcript
Dan Dailey

Dan Dailey discusses Lino Tagliapietra severing ties with the Murano glass community. Dan Dailey Interview for Paul Hollister, c. 1989-1990 (Rakow title: Dan Dailey self-interview [sound recording] / for Paul Hollister, BIB ID: 168376) Clip length: 03:13.

Dan Dailey: Lino’s [Tagliapietra] an unusual person—in the context of that group of Italian glassblowers—on Murano because he’s left the fold, in a way, and you can tell just by last time I was there I walked around for three days or so by myself because Lino and Lina [Tagliapietra] went to Copenhagen. They just let me have their house, and I stayed there and drew for a while, and I walked around, and such a small place, naturally you see everybody out on the street all the time, that anybody that you meet once, you’re likely to see ten times in a few days. So I’d bump into people and they’d be talking to me about Lino, saying they’re sort of worried about him because he quit his job [sound of car], see? And he left the security of that situation. Well I think Lino’s likely to be a little nervous about it too, now and then, but he’s got enough going for him, and enough confidence in that to give him the courage to leave the situation. But it’s rare, you don’t hear about that very much in that tight little community. [tape pauses] And he’s very much in demand these days. You know, he’s been the main maker of things at the French glass center called CIRVA [International Center of Glass and Plastic Arts] in Marseilles. And he goes over there, maybe, for three or four days at a time, every other month, and they just published a little brochure of the art of CIRVA, and I would say that nine-tenths of the work pictured in the brochure [loud sound of gear shift] says, ‘This piece is by such-and-such an artist but made by Lino Tagliapietra.’ And of course he’s been working with Dale [Chihuly], working with me, and he’s starting some new things in Murano with this Japanese company that he’s dealing with, so I don’t think he’s feeling too out on a limb, he’s got enough security from these different projects that he’ll probably last a while longer before he goes back to regular employment with a boss and everything. But it certainly isn’t the normal thing for one of the Italian masters on Murano to do.


Dan Dailey talks about his time at Venini and his tripod-form works in a recording for Paul Hollister (c. 1989–1990).


Playing07:40 Transcript
Dan Dailey

Dan Dailey talks about his time at Venini and his tripod-form works in a recording for Paul Hollister (c. 1989–1990)Dan Dailey Interview for Paul Hollister, c. 1989-1990 (Rakow title: Dan Dailey self-interview [sound recording] / for Paul Hollister, BIB ID: 168376) Clip length: 07:40.

Time stamp: 00:00
Clip 1: Dan Dailey talks about Dale Chihuly’s visits to Italy as inspiration for work at Venini and reminisces about Ludovico Diaz di Santillana. Clip length: 03:39.

Dan Dailey: I’ve been thinking about it, the subject of my work at Venini and those times for me and other people, and what got me to go to Italy in the first place was on one hand a suggestion from [Dale] Chihuly, who was my teacher at RISD [Rhode Island School of Design] when I was a graduate student. I was his first graduate student—so when I was in school, Chihuly told me that he had gone to Italy and worked, I don’t know how much work he did there, but he really enjoyed his time there, and it made a lasting impression on him. He’s been going back and forth to Venice ever since. But the idea intrigued me, and I had already been entertaining a notion of moving to Europe for a period before I ever went to graduate school, so it just sort of fell in with my thinking, and I applied for a Fulbright grant through RISD and eventually I got the award, and then time came and I moved over there. When I went to Venini, Mr. Santillana [Ludovico Diaz di Santillana] was extremely receptive, he really was a very hospitable man—he died recently. I don’t know if you knew him or not. He was quite a person. I’ll tell you a couple interesting things about Santillana. I remember one night we were walking on the street, it was about one o’clock in the morning in Venice, and it was a winter night, not too cold, but a rainy sort of dreary night, very, very dark. And we were standing on this bridge or standing on some balcony or something and sort of looking at this cityscape, and there was a man sort of passing by in the shadows a little distance away. You could see him but you couldn’t hear him, and Ludovigo said, ‘Here’s the mark of a true gentleman, he’s got rubber soled shoes.’ Now I’m not saying that was a profound remark, that’s just a characteristic remark of Ludovigo Diaz di Santillana. And another thing I remember, he’s a hell of a driver, a hell of a driver, he had this Citroen—the DX, or DS, it wasn’t a Maserati, it was just DS. And we went on this business trip one day, and Santillana was speeding along, came to a rotary in the highway, and as we went around the rotary, this woman in some little Italian hotrod cut us off, passed on the inside of the curve. He started swearing in I don’t know what languages, and he was absolutely furious. He stepped on the gas and we chased that lady [background noise (gear shift) audible] maybe half an hour out of our way [DD’s car likely stopped at this point] to catch up with her. I don’t remember if he ever did, but he was an interesting character. I was sorry to hear that he died.

Time stamp: 03:42
Clip 2: Dan Dailey relays a story about Ludovico Diaz di Santillana of Venini reacting to the lamps he designed for them. Clip length: 01:56.

Dan Dailey: I had a nice group of lamps, and they actually in a funny way looked like Venini product because it was their colors, their materials, but the style was really my own. And I remember Santillana came in for a critique one day, near the end of the time that I was staying there, and I had this room all set up with the lights on and everything, and it looked pretty good. He walked around the room for a while, and he obviously was amused by it, he was smiling and he liked the pieces and he turned them off and on and he was playing with them and then he started smacking his forehead just, ‘These are mad, these are mad pieces,’ and he had these English expressions, I think he learned his English in England. But he just kept on saying, ‘These are mad pieces, it’ll never work for Venini,’ and it’s right, it never worked for Venini. So, in a way, without realizing it, I didn’t pay enough attention to Venini’s style and try to incorporate myself in that sense. All I did was I went there and I went to Italian showrooms and looked at fantastic contemporary Italian design in the time I was there, which was 1972. And I was highly influenced by the playful, energetic quality of Italian design. And all my pieces were a response to it, and they were lamps that worked. So I thought, ‘Well, Venini might be able to do this.’ But as it turned out, it wasn’t Venini, it didn’t look like Venini. And despite the diversity of all the efforts of artists who worked with Venini, there is a Venini look. A very definite Venini look. And my look was not the Venini look.

Time stamp: 05:41
Clip 3: Dan Dailey talks about his tripod forms being inspired by Shang bronzes. Clip length: 01:59.

Dan Dailey: The work at Venini—I made a lot of things with tripod and odd symmetry. The tripods came out of an interest in Shang bronzes because of those very interesting forms, you know, like they used the gourd shape or other natural forms as a basis for their bronze forms. And maybe they even used actual fruits to cast the bronze with that method of casting that they had, a little bit like a ceramic shell casting, really interesting technology that was developed in the most crude ways, but very sophisticated results. But I always liked those shapes, especially that tripod form, and, of course, it became very popular with a lot of ceramicists during the seventies. And they’re still making kind of pseudo-oriental work, a lot of American crafts people. But the tripod form, to me, was interesting because of the way it affected the symmetry of the object. Because many times when you view a vase, especially a Greek vase, it’s bi-symmetrical, even though it’s a piece in the round it’s kind of a bi-symmetrical object. And the bronze—the tripod form comes from—it really does make you view it in the round, it makes you aware of the other side of the piece in a different way.



Writings by Paul Hollister Bibliography

“Die magische Anziehung Venedigs / The Pull of Venice: Part 2.” Neues Glas, no. 2 (1990): 82–88.