Skip to content

Josiah McElheny, Observations, 2020. Film by Greg Poole. Produced by James Cohan, 2020. 

Biography

Josiah McElheny’s sculptures, paintings, installations, performances, and films engage with the history of ideas across wide-ranging fields of study—from literature to architecture, music theory, and astronomy—transforming this research into physical form. His works often combine glass or mirror with other materials, to emphasize the importance of the act of looking “as a subject in and of itself.” A skilled glassblower, McElheny frequently incorporates hand-blown and shaped glass within evocative assemblages, whose mode of presentation creates a sense of unsettled ideals, and a challenge to fixed definitions. For McElheny, glass—with its qualities of reflectivity, transparency, and enigmatic mutability—highlights the interactive potential between the object and viewer. The material serves as a productive agent, inciting chance encounters between forms and ideas that point toward alternative histories and futures.

View More

Biography

Josiah McElheny’s sculptures, paintings, installations, performances, and films engage with the history of ideas across wide-ranging fields of study—from literature to architecture, music theory, and astronomy—transforming this research into physical form. His works often combine glass or mirror with other materials, to emphasize the importance of the act of looking “as a subject in and of itself.” A skilled glassblower, McElheny frequently incorporates hand-blown and shaped glass within evocative assemblages, whose mode of presentation creates a sense of unsettled ideals, and a challenge to fixed definitions. For McElheny, glass—with its qualities of reflectivity, transparency, and enigmatic mutability—highlights the interactive potential between the object and viewer. The material serves as a productive agent, inciting chance encounters between forms and ideas that point toward alternative histories and futures.

 

Josiah McElheny (b. 1966, Boston, MA) has exhibited widely, including solo shows at the Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, CA (2019); Moody Center for the Arts, Rice University, Houston, TX (2018); MAK Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna, Austria (2016); Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH (2013), Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA (2012), Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, England (2011), Museo de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain (2009), Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (2007), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2007), Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain (2002), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA (2001), The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA (1999) and the Seattle Art Museum, WA (1995).  His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Museum of Fine Art, Boston, MA; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; and Tate Modern, London, UK among others. McElheny lives and works in New York, New York.

Back To Top