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Image of Blue Prism Painting I

© Josiah McElheny.

Blue Prism Painting I

42 5/16 x 42 5/16 x 7 3/8 in. (107.5 x 107.5 x 18.8 cm)

Josiah McElheny
United States

Object Type: Glass
Medium and Support: Blue glass, mirror, oak, plywood
Credit Line: Clara and Edwin Strasenburgh Fund, Thelma M. Knapp Fund, Lyman K. and Eleanore B. Stuart Endowment Fund, and funds given in memory of Dorothee Kellner Schwartz
Accession Number: 2014.65
Location: Currently on view
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Master glass blower Josiah McElheny explores specific moments in the history of glass and twentieth-century modernism, an era of artistic creativity inspired by optimism for the future. His mirrors and highly reflective surfaces speak to the modern aspirations of the past, and invite viewers into an air-tight world of perfection. Our reflections inside the work encourage us to think about our relationship to modernism and its continued relevance today.

Blue Prism Painting I is the first among McElheny’s series inspired by Ad Reinhardt’s blue paintings. Reinhardt (his Abstract Painting: Red is on view nearby) sought to make “pure” paintings that rejected imagery, emotion, and the world outside their frames. Here McElheny fills the framework of Reinhardt’s blue paintings with clean, curvilinear forms inspired by mid-twentieth-century Swedish glass artist, Vicke Lindstrand.

[Gallery label text, Summer 2015]

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Web Links See links to web pages and lesson plans
Josiah McElheny: Paintings | ART21 "Exclusive" Episode #228: Filmed in 2015, artist Josiah McElheny works on a new series of paintings from his Brooklyn, NY studio. "People have often described my work as sculpture," says McElheny, who only recently recognized the role of painting within his work from throughout the past two decades. In contrast to the notion that “painting might only be the surface,” McElheny is interested in creating the opportunity to look through paintings. McElheny creates mysterious, shifting abstractions by inserting glass prisms into his work, referring to the past yet suggesting possibilities for the future. The finished paintings were on view at Andrea Rosen Gallery in New York in Fall 2015.

Josiah McElheny creates finely crafted, handmade glass objects that he combines with photographs, text, and museological displays to evoke notions of meaning and memory. McElhenys work takes as its subject the object, idea, and social nexus of glass. Influenced by the writings of Jorge Luis Borges, McElhenys work often takes the form of historical fictions. Part of McElhenys fascination with storytelling is that glassmaking is part of an oral tradition handed down generation to generation, artisan to artisan. Sculptural models of Modernist ideals, these totally reflective environments are both elegant seductions as well as parables of the vices of utopian aspirations.

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