Josiah McElheny

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Josiah McElheny
Born 1966 (1966)
United States
Nationality American
Education Rhode Island School of Design
Known for Sculpture, Assemblage
Awards MacArthur Fellows Program

Josiah McElheny (born in 1966, United States) is an artist and sculptor, primarily known for his work with glass blowing and assemblages of glass and mirrored glassed objects (see Glass art). He is a 2006 recipient of the MacArthur Fellows Program. He currently lives and works in New York City.

Early life and education[edit]

McElheny grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts.[citation needed] While attending high school in the early 1980s, he was part of Boston's underground music scene, and worked as a sound engineer at Radiobeat Studios.[citation needed] He holds production credits on records by the Proletariat, Sorry, and Death Wish, recorded in 1983 and 1984.

McElheny went on to receive his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1988. As part of that program, in 1987 he trained under master glassblower Ronald Wilkins in London, England, and also studied at Rome, Italy in the Rhode Island School of Design European Honors Program.[citation needed]

After graduating, he was an apprentice to master glassblowers Jan-Erik Ritzman and Sven-Ake Caarlson (in Transjö, Sweden) from 1989–1991; and an apprentice to master glassblower Lino Tagliapietra (various locations: Seattle, Washington, New York, New York, Switzerland) from 1992-1997.[citation needed]


In earlier works McElheny played with notions of "history" and "fiction". Examples of this are works that recreate Renaissance glass objects pictured in Renaissance paintings and modern (but lost) glass objects from documentary photographs (such as works by Adolf Loos). McElheny has mentioned the influence of the writings of Jorge Luis Borges in his work.[citation needed]

Overall his work addresses history, modernism, cosmology, reflection, infinity, purity and utopia, and has clear links to the work of the American abstract artist Donald Judd. His work also sometimes deals with issues of museological displays and one's attempts to derive inferences about historical peoples from their household possessions and objects. He draws from a range of disciplines like architecture, physics, and literature, among others, and he works in a variety of media.[1]

McElheny has also expressed interest in glassblowing as part of an oral tradition handed down generation to generation.[citation needed] He has used the infinity mirror visual effect in his explorations of apparently infinite space.

One of the artist's ongoing projects has been characterized as an "investigation into the origins of the universe." "An End to Modernity" (2005), a twelve-foot-wide by ten-foot-high chandelier of chrome and transparent glass modeled on the 1960s Lobmeyr design for the chandeliers found in Lincoln Center, and evoking as well the Big Bang theory, was commissioned by the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University. "The End of the Dark Ages," again inspired by the Metropolitan Opera House chandeliers and informed by logarithmic equations devised by the cosmologist David H. Weinberg was shown in New York City in 2008. Later that year, the series culminated in a massive installation titled "Island Universe" at White Cube in London[2] and in Madrid.[3]

He has exhibited his work at national and international venues including the Museum of Modern Art, Orchard, and Andrea Rosen Gallery in New York, Donald Young Gallery in Chicago, Institut im Glaspavillon in Berlin, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, White Cube in London, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid.

Teaching and professional experience[edit]


Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • 1990 – Jägarens Glasmuseet (The Hunter's Glass Museum), Arnescruv, Sweden,
  • 1993 – originals, fakes, reproductions, William Traver Gallery, Seattle
  • 1994 – Authentic History, Robert Lehman Gallery, Brooklyn, New York
  • 1995 – Stephen Friedman Gallery, London
  • 1995 – Installation with Ancient Roman Glass, Ancient Mediterranean and Egypt Gallery, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle,
  • 1995 – Donald Young Gallery, Seattle
  • 1996 – Barbara Kraków Gallery, Boston
  • 1997 -Non-Decorative Beautiful Objects, AC Project Room, New York
  • 1997 – Three Alter Egos, Donald Young Gallery, Seattle
  • 1999 – The Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle
  • 1999 – The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
  • 2000 – Christian Dior, Jorges Luis Borges, Adolf Loos, Donald Young Gallery, Chicago and Brent Sikkema, New York
  • 2001 – Metal Party, Public Art Fund, New York
  • 2001 – Metal Party, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
  • 2001 – Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas
  • 2002 – Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  • 2003 – Theories About Reflection, Brent Sikkema Gallery, New York
  • 2003 – Antipodes: Josiah McElheny, White Cube, London
  • 2004 – Total Reflective Abstraction, Donald Young Gallery, Chicago
  • 2005 – An End to Modernity, Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
  • 2006 – Modernity 1929–1965, Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
  • 2006 – Cosmology, Design, and Landscape, Part I, Donald Young Gallery, Chicago
  • 2007 – Cosmology, Design, and Landscape, Part II, Donald Young Gallery, Chicago
  • 2007 – Projects 84: The Alpine Cathedral and the City-Crown, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • 2007 – The 1st at Moderna: The Alpine Cathedral and the City-Crown, Moderna Museet, Stockholm
  • 2008 – The Last Scattering Surface, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle and Rochester Art Center, Rochester, Minnesota
  • 2008 – Das Lichtklub von Batavia/The Light Club of Batavia, Institut im Glaspavillon, Berlin
  • 2008 – The Light Club of Batavia, Donald Young Gallery, Chicago
  • 2008 – The End of the Dark Ages, Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
  • 2008 – Island Universe, White Cube, London
  • 2009 – A Space for an Island Universe, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid
  • 2009 – Proposal for a Chromatic Modernism, Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
  • 2012 – Some Pictures of the Infinite, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
  • 2016 – The Ornament Museum, Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna

Group exhibitions[edit]

  • 1994 – Are You Experienced? Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
  • 1994 – Wunderkammer, Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco
  • 1994 – First Fundraising Exhibition, American Fine Arts Company, New York
  • 1995 – Holding the Past, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle
  • 1995 – For Victoria, Grazer Kunstverein (de), Graz, Austria (with Dan Peterman)
  • 1995 – For Victoria, Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York (with Dan Peterman)
  • 1995 – VER-RÜCKT, Kulturstiftung Schloss Agathenburg, Agathenburg, Germany (traveled to: Art Museum of Arolsen, Arolsen, Germany)
  • 1996 – Drawings from the MAB Library, AC Project Room, New York
  • 1996 – The Last Supper, Donald Young Gallery, Seattle
  • 1996 – What’s Love Got to Do With It? Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago
  • 1996 – A Labor of Love, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York
  • 1997 – Living Room, Barbara Westerman Gallery, Newport, Rhode Island
  • 1997 – Paul Bloodgood, Paula Hayes, Josiah McElheny, Sandra Vallejos, AC Project Room, New York
  • 1998 – Young Americans: Part II, Saatchi Gallery, London
  • 1998 – Interlacings, Whitney Museum of American Art at Champion, Stamford, Connecticut
  • 1998 – Inglenook, Feigen Contemporary, New York (travelled to Illinois State University Galleries, Normal, Illinois)
  • 1998 – Personal Touch, Art in General, New York
  • 1998 – Usefool, Postmasters Gallery, New York
  • 1998 – At Home in the Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
  • 1999 – Patentia, Nordic Institute of Contemporary Art, Stockholm
  • 2000 – Three Summer Shows: Francis Cape, Josiah McElheny, and Yinka Shonibare, Real Art Ways, Hartford, Connecticut
  • 2000 – Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
  • 2001 – Body Space, The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2001 – Donald Young Gallery, Chicago
  • 2001 – House Guests: Contemporary Artists in The Grange, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
  • 2001 – 4th International Biennial Beau Monde: Toward a Redeemed Cosmopolitanism, SITE Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • 2001 – Musings: Contemporary Tradition, Gallery 312, Chicago
  • 2002 – View Six: Surface to Surface, Mary Boone Gallery, New York
  • 2002 – Keep in touch, Brent Sikkema, New York
  • 2002 – Family, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut
  • 2003 – Warped Space, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco,
  • 2003 – Books and Manuscripts, Volume Gallery, New York
  • 2004 – Signs of Being, The Foundation To-Life, Inc., Mount Kisco, New York
  • 2004 – Glass, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, Rhode Island
  • 2004 – Printemps de septembre á Toulouse: In Extremis, Les Abbatoirs, Toulouse, France
  • 2004 – The Cobweb, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  • 2005 – Extreme Abstraction, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York
  • 2005 – View Eight: A Few Domestic Objects Interrogate a Few Works of Art, Mary Boone, New York
  • 2005 – Bottle: Contemporary Art and Vernacular Tradition, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut
  • 2005 – Spectrum, Galerie Lelong, New York
  • 2005 – Faith, Real Art Ways, Hartford, Connecticut
  • 2005 – Part Object Part Sculpture, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio
  • 2006 – Shiny, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio
  • 2006 – Super Vision, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
  • 2006 – Dynasty, Gallery MC, New York
  • 2006 – Transitional Objects: Contemporary Still Life, Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, New York
  • 2006 – The Bong Show (or This is Not a Pipe), Leslie Tonkonow, New York
  • 2007 – Museo de reproducciones fotograficas, Rutgers University Gallery, Newark
  • 2007 – Accumulations: More Than the Sum of Their Parts, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
  • 2007 – Cosmologies, James Cohan Gallery, New York
  • 2007 – Sparkle Then Fade, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, Washington
  • 2007 – Viewfinder, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle
  • 2008 – Sensory Overload: Light, Motion, Sound, and the Optical in Art Since 1945, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • 2008 – Beyond Measure: Conversations Across Art and Science, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, UK
  • 2008 – Spring-Wound, Orchard, New York
  • 2008 – Mildred’s Lane, Alexander Gray, New York
  • 2008 – Multi-Part Art, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence
  • 2009 – Innovations in the Third Dimension: Sculpture of our Time, Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut
  • 2009 – Sense and Sentiment, Augarten Contemporary, Vienna
  • 2009 – Universal Code, The Power Plant, Toronto
  • 2009 – Allan Kaprow YARD, Queens Museum of Art, Queens, New York
  • 2010 – Redi-Mix, Kathleen Cullen Fine Arts, New York
  • 2010 – Josiah McElheny, Blinky Palermo, Heimo Zobernig, Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York

Awards and fellowships[edit]



  1. ^ Oldknow, Tina (2014). collecting contemporary glass. Corning, New York: Corning Museum of Glass. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-87290-201-5. 
  2. ^ "The Big Picture" by Alex Browne, The New York Times, September 26, 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  3. ^ "Josiah McElheny and David Weinberg: From the Big Bang to Island Universe" Wexler Center press release on a joint conversation May 6, 2009. Retrieved 4 August 2009.