Josiah McElheny

On March 22, artist Josiah McElheny presented a lecture at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City called “Artists and Models” to discuss his investigation of models and how they operate in relation to sculptural thought rather than direct function or information. McElheny is interested in the idea of a model as an “aesthetical utopia that could never be built.” In a 1929 conversation between sculptor Isamu Noguchi and architect Buckminster Fuller, the idea of an experimental environment containing no shadows was determined feasible if a totally reflective form was constructed in a completely reflective space. While never completely realized by Fuller or Noguchi, McElheny, who is known for working with glass, used this reflective principle to create a series of sculptural models, both large and small, called “Extended Landscape Model for Total Reflective Abstraction,” which contained a mirrored glass table with hand-blown mirrored glass objects placed directly onto the table. These works were eventually, over a period of about four years, extended into other works that illustrated the same principle through other environments and models. Many of these examples can be viewed currently at the Donald Young Gallery in Chicago in “Josiah McElheny: Cosmology, Design, and Landscape Part Two,” while other projects and ideas are discussed in season three of the ART:21 series.