Dan Dailey's career in glass has spanned more than 40 years. Emerging from the Studio Glass movement initiated by Harvey Littleton, Dailey's work has branched out from the mainstream by the incorporation of metal into many of the sculptures. Additionally, he has worked with several glass companies, in particular as an independent artist/ designer for Crisallerie Daum, France for more than twenty years. He has taught at many glass programs and is professor emeritus at the Massachusetts College of Art where he founded the glass program. Since 1971, Dailey's work has been featured in more than 100 exhibitions and included in over 350 juried or invitational group shows.
He is married to Linda MacNeil, an artist also working with glass and metal, primarily in the studio or art jewelry field.
Dailey encountered glass as an artists' medium when helping construct a small glass blowing studio at the Philadelphia College of Art with Roland Jahn, a glass blower, ceramics teacher at the college, and former student Harvey Littleton. From building basic equipment and observing processes, Dailey soon began working with glass.
In 1970 Dailey received a teaching fellowship at Rhode Island School of Design, (RISD) in Providence, Rhode Island, where the well-known glass artist, Dale Chihuly, was teaching at the time. Dailey became Chihuly’s first graduate student. Along with other students, Dailey assisted in building the RISD glass studio and began to develop concepts for illuminated sculpture.
In 1972 Dailey received a Fulbright Fellowship and was invited by Ludovico Diaz di Santillana, the director and owner of the Venini Factory in Murano, to work as an independent artist/designer. Dailey created a series of blown glass and brass sculptural lamps while in residence at the factory. This industrial experience became a model for Dailey’s future work in several glass factories later in his career.
In 1973 Dailey began teaching glass and ceramics at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. The school was without facilities for glass and with the experience that marked the beginning of his career with glass, Dailey built the studio and equipment with the assistance of several students. Dailey also taught from 1985 to 2007, he often taught the introductory glassblowing class to beginner students who were unaware of his success as an artist. He is notably humble and very generous with students.Dailey continued to create illuminated sculpture, vase forms and began to develop Vitrolite wall reliefs.In 1975 Dailey taught at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington, for the first time.
In 1976 Dailey was invited by Jacques Daum, nephew of August Daum, to work as an independent artist at Cristallerie Daum in Nancy, France. Between 1978 and 2003 he produced seven editioned pâte de verre sculptures. This experience created a working relationship that continues today.The numerous works created at Cristallerie Daum were produced as limited edition, pâte de verre works. Dailey is one of three Americans to have worked with Daum and holds the longest standing relationship of any artist after 32 years of work with the company. Other artists who have worked with Daum include Salvador Dalí, Fernand Léger, Jean-Michel Folon, César, Christian Poincignon, and many others.Dailey’s editioned works include: Les Danseurs, Le Vent, Le Joyeau, L’Eau, Le Vin, Le Soleil, and La Dame.Along with the limited editions, Daum melted selected colors of crystal for Dailey’s personal use. From 1987 to 1990, with the assistance of Mark Weiner, three Daum crystal vase series were produced.
1980 Massachusetts Council on the Arts Fellowship–Glass
In 1980 Dailey received a fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies in Cambridge where he co-taught the class Glass, Gas and Electricity with German artist Otto Piene. This experimental sculpture class emphasized and explored the phenomenon of illumination. Otto Piene remained a friend and colleague until his death in 2014.In conjunction with the MIT Research Lab for Electronics, Dailey further studied the qualities of light and glass.
In 1984 Dailey produced a suite of designs for Steuben Glass in Corning, New York. At the request of Steuben, Dailey produced sports-themed designs to be produced on vases, with one design Ice Dancers being produced.
In 1985 Dailey began working with Fenton Art Glass Company to produce cast glass components of a low relief mural. Over a period of 20 years, Dailey made 26 large scale murals, one of which was 16 feet (4.9 m) by 24 feet (7.3 m), weighing over 4,000 pounds (1,800 kg).With numerous assistants, Dailey also blew glass to create various works, notably, the Science Fiction Series, 1985-86.
In 1987 Henry Geldzahler, Milton Glaser, and Hugh Hardy selected Dailey to make a cast glass relief mural titled Orbit, for the Rainbow Room at the Rockefeller Center. The mural is a 15-foot (4.6 m) by 8-foot (2.4 m) abstract representation of orbiting planets and artistic debris, illuminated from behind with changing colors coordinated with the mood lighting of the dining/dancing space.Dailey also created wall sconces for various locations around the Rainbow Room complex.
Henry Geldzahler wrote an essay for the catalog, in which he noted, "Dan Dailey’s achievement is in the seamless marriage he effects in his work in every medium between the idiosyncratic convolutions of his inner landscape and the classic harmony and lucidity of the great tradition in glass, of whom Daum, Nancy and Lalique are giants. Dailey’s work joins in that tradition, but with a contemporary spin that causes the viewer to smile in complicity."
1987 Retrospective Exhibition of Dan Dailey’s work at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Rosenwald Wolf Gallery
The exhibition, curated by Eleni Cocordas, consisted of fifty works, including illuminated sculpture, Vitrolite wall reliefs, vases, and pastel drawings.
1989 Masters Fellowship, Creative Glass Center of America
Dailey was invited to work as an independent artist by Waterford Crystal, Kilbarry, Ireland, in 1998. Dailey visited three times between 1998-1999 to create chandeliers, wall sconces, and seven engraved vases, using particular processes unique to the history and specialty of Waterford Crystal.
2007 publication: Glassigator, written and illustrated by Dan Dailey and Allison MacNeil Dailey in conjunction with the Toledo Museum of Art
The Toledo Museum of Art, a museum whose major focus is on glass, asked Dailey to create a children's book explaining and illustrating the process of glassblowing. Dailey collaborated with Allison Dailey, who developed the characters and executed all of the final watercolor drawings for the book. The book is based on the making of a particular vase titled Alligator, from Dailey's Animal Vase series begun in 1992.
2007 publication: Dan Dailey, a 384-page volume on Dailey's work, published by Harry N. Abrams.
The book, a comprehensive view of Dailey's work from 1968 to 2007, includes 460 illustrations, 400 full-color images, and was designed and edited by Joe Rapone. Writing and essays are by Milton Glaser, Tina Oldknow, and William Warmus.
2007 Silver Star Alumni Award, College of Art and Design at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia
2008-09 Residency: G.A.P.P Glass Residency (Guest Artist Pavilion Project) Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio
Dailey was asked to be a part of the G.A.P.P. The focus of the residency was to study and respond to the museum's collection, with a focus on landscape and paintings. Dailey's glass mural project for the museum was begun in 2008 and is now in progress.
2009–Present: Materialism lecture series, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston
Dailey conducted a series of artist interviews, in collaboration with Joe Rapone, which explore the notion of "Materialism", a term that includes a rethinking of movements of the 1970s, specifically the Studio Craft Movement.
2010 Guest Artist Pavilion Project - Artist Residency, Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH