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The Chandeliers – How an Accident Became Art

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Architect Kyna Leski breaks down her father’s story on how a wonderful accident while drawing the chandeliers became one of the most aesthetically pleasing additions to The Opera House.

Great Performances: The Opera House, the new documentary by multiple Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Susan Froemke (Grey GardensLalee’s Kin: The Legacy of Cotton) surveys a remarkable period of the Metropolitan Opera’s rich history and a time of great change for New York City. Premieres Friday, May 25 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) and will be available to stream the following day on pbs.org/gperf and PBS apps.

TRANSCRIPT

The chandeliers happened from an accident which is one of the best ways to get out of your own way that's something that you didn' t intend when something goes wrong when something doesn't happen as you willfully wanted it opens your mind to something that's right in front of you.

One day my father very characteristically is making a sketch mixed-media grabbing anything that's in front of him and not only of conceiving of a design but then quickly visualizing it so he's drawing it in order to communicate to others for a meeting and in the process of adding some finishing touches with paint, A splat happened on his perspective and there was no time to really start over again because it was just before meeting.

So he quickly added some lines so that splotch of white paint could be refracted light from the chandelier.

My father was nervous about that because Rockefeller and Harrison both were thinking that they would get a traditional design for a chandelier and this clearly was something else.

There's a reason why everybody went, 'Ah!'

Even though they had other intentions my father's intention was not to splash across the page Harrison's intention was to respect Rockefellers intention which was to do a traditional chandelier but they all went, 'Ah!' there is something that is shared that's just in the air and suddenly it started to assert itself as not just an accident but as something that could be the the beginning the birth, the genesis of the design.

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