Josiah McElheny

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Josiah McElheny
Born1966 (1966)[1]
EducationRhode Island School of Design
Known forSculpture, Assemblage
AwardsMacArthur Fellows Program

Josiah McElheny (1966, Boston) 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.[2] As part of that program, he trained trained under master glassblower Ronald Wilkins.[3] After graduating, he was an apprentice to master glassblowers Jan-Erik Ritzman, Sven-Ake Caarlson and Lino Tagliapietra.[1]


In earlier works McElheny played with notions of history and fiction.[4] Examples of this are works that recreate Renaissance glass objects pictured in Renaissance paintings[5] and modern (but lost) glass objects from documentary photographs (such as works by Adolf Loos).[6] He draws from a range of disciplines like architecture, physics, and literature, among others, and he works in a variety of media.[7]

McElheny has mentioned the influence of the writings of Jorge Luis Borges in his work.[8] His work has also been influenced by the work of the American abstract artist Donald Judd.[9]

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. His work also sometimes deals with issues of museological displays.[10]

One of the artist's ongoing projects is "An End to Modernity" (2005), commissioned by the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University. The piece is 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.[11] "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[12] 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[13] and in Madrid.[14]


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[15]
  • 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[16]
  • 2004 – Total Reflective Abstraction, Donald Young Gallery, Chicago[17]
  • 2005 – An End to Modernity, Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio[12]
  • 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[18]
  • 2007 – The 1st at Moderna: The Alpine Cathedral and the City-Crown, Moderna Museet, Stockholm[19]
  • 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[20]
  • 2009 – Proposal for a Chromatic Modernism, Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
  • 2012 – Some Pictures of the Infinite, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston[11][21]
  • 2016 – The Ornament Museum, Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna


Permanent collections[edit]


  • Josiah McElheny: A Prism. Skira Rizzoli International, 2010. ISBN 978-0-8478-3415-0.
  • The Light Club: On Paul Scheerbart's 'The Light Club of Batavia'. University of Chicago Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-226-51457-4.


  1. ^ a b "Josiah McElheny · Works 1994-2000".
  2. ^ Magazine, Wallpaper* (19 November 2012). "'Interactions of the Abstract Body' by Josiah McElheny, London". Wallpaper*.
  3. ^ "Josiah McElheny". Art21.
  4. ^ "Josiah McElheny (2000) - Corning Museum of Glass".
  5. ^ "Objects and Ideas". Art21.
  6. ^ "Josiah McElheny at Donald Young Gallery".
  7. ^ Oldknow, Tina (2014). collecting contemporary glass. Corning, New York: Corning Museum of Glass. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-87290-201-5.
  8. ^ A. D. Linde (2008). Josiah McElheny: Island Universe. Jay Jopling/White Cube.
  9. ^ Jutta-Annette Page; Peter Morrin; Robert Bell (12 December 2012). Color Ignited: Glass 1962–2012. BookBaby. pp. 38–. ISBN 978-0-935172-49-2.
  10. ^ John Stuart Gordon (9 November 2017). American Glass: The Collections at Yale. Yale University Press. pp. 285–. ISBN 978-0-300-22669-0.
  11. ^ a b c Dobrzynski, Judith H. (14 June 2012). "Josiah McElheny, Glass Artist, in Busy Times" – via
  12. ^ a b Spears, Dorothy (7 May 2006). "The Entire Universe on a Dimmer Switch" – via
  13. ^ "The Big Picture" by Alex Browne, The New York Times, September 26, 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  14. ^ "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.
  15. ^ Hackett, Regina; Critic, P.-I. Art (13 June 2008). "The fussy and fashionable acquire weight in glass artist Josiah McElheny's hands".
  16. ^ Louise Neri (2003). Antipodes: inside the white cube. White Cube. ISBN 978-0-9542363-8-0.
  17. ^ ""Total Reflective Abstraction"". Art21.
  18. ^ Schwendener, Martha. "Art in Review; Josiah McElheny".
  19. ^ "The 1st at Moderna: Josiah McElheny". Moderna Museet i Stockholm.
  20. ^ "Josiah McElheny - Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía".
  21. ^ Reporter, James H. Burnett III-. "Josiah McElheny's expanding universe - The Boston Globe".
  22. ^ "Josiah McElheny - MacArthur Foundation".
  23. ^ "Josiah McElheny. Modernity, Mirrored and Reflected Infinitely. 2003 - MoMA".