2000 Rakow Commission Artist: Josiah McElheny

Josiah McElheny (2000)

Untitled (White) - Josiah McElheny

Untitled (White)

Josiah McElheny (American, b. 1966)
United States, Seattle, Washington, 2000
Blown, cased, and cut glass; display cabinet, lighting
H: 56.5 cm, L: 218.6 cm, D: 40.7 cm
2000.4.9, 15th Rakow Commission

Josiah McElheny is an accomplished glassblower with a profound respect for the traditions and history of the craft. He creates installations of glass objects that are inspired by art or glass history, often using a specific historical or literary anecdote as a point of departure. His objects are often presented with slightly or heavily fictionalized, pseudo-historical narratives, or accompanied by poems or selected quotations. His installations do not merely contextualize his glass objects, but are thoughtful compositions on the history of art, glassblowing, the making of objects, philosophy, and story.

More recently, the artist has put aside words in favor of the narrative that is generated by juxtaposed forms. Untitled (White) pays tribute to Modernism and the history of 20th-century glass design. McElheny's choice of color—a brilliant white—and purposeful lack of title refer to Modernist concepts of purity, spareness, and simplicity. The objects, displayed in a reproduction of a 1950s International Style cabinet, honor internationally recognized designers who have influenced McElheny.

The glass, from left to right, reproduces famous designs by Tapio Wirkkala (Finnish, 1915–1985), Fulvio Bianconi (Italian, 1915–1996), Gunnel Nyman (Finnish, 1909–1948), Vittorio Zecchin (Italian, 1878–1947, two objects), Oswald Haerdtl (Austrian, 1899–1959), Josef Hoffmann (Austrian,1870–1956), Paolo Venini (Italian, 1895–1959), Vicke Lindstrand (Swedish, 1904–1983), Nils Landberg (Swedish, 1907–1991, two objects), Tyra Lundgren (Swedish,1897–1979), Gio Ponti (Italian, 1891–1979), and Venini.