This June, the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston presents the first museum survey of Josiah McElheny. McElheny uses the medium of glass to create objects of exceptional beauty and formal sophistication. An artist of diverse interests, McElheny draws on art history, politics, and astronomy to encode his glassworks with information, turning these exquisite objects into repositories of meaning. A mid-career survey of the artist’s work, 'Josiah McElheny: Some Pictures of the Infinite' traces the artist’s investigations into the representation of time and space, and in particular, the concept of infinity. McElheny’s interest in this subject can be seen in early works that deal with the problem of how to represent archeological time –– using glass shards and fragments –– up through his most recent explorations of the Big Bang and astronomical time. Organized by Helen Molesworth, the Barbara Lee Chief Curator of the ICA, the exhibition features 21 works, including sculpture, installation, film, photography, performance and a new large-scale work which will make its debut at the museum.
'A Study for the Center is Everywhere' (2012) is the latest in a series of works fusing décor and astronomy, formal elegance and conceptual rigor. A suspended sculpture, The Center is Everywhere hangs from the ceiling in a glittering column of crystal and brass. The seven-foot-tall sculpture hovers inches off the ground, creating a dynamic relationship between the dangling crystals and the floor below. It was Weinberg who suggested the idea for the sculpture, based on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey’s current efforts to chart the whole of the cosmos, one dime-sized portion at time. Powerful telescopes from a New Mexico observatory focus on a specific patch of sky, and physically record the visible objects by perforating holes in a metal plate. One such disc forms the structural basis of A Study for the Center is Everywhere, which abstracts and stylizes actual celestial bodies. Streaming downward from the central disc, the sculpture bursts with information; its hand-cut crystals signifying stars and galaxies while the brass rods tipped with light bulbs represent distant quasars.
The work’s title comes from the philosopher Blaise Pascal’s centuries-old pronouncement that “nature is an infinite sphere, whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” Equal parts empirical and aesthetic, McElheny’s imaginative approach seduces viewers, couching cutting-edge science into unabashed formal beauty.
Josiah McElheny: Some Pictures of the Infinite
The Institute of Contemporary Art
100 Northern Avenue
Tel: +1 617-478-3100
Tuesday and Wednesday: 10am - 5pm
Thursday and Friday: 10am - 9pm
Saturday and Sunday: 10am - 5pm
22 June - 14 October 2012
Josiah McElheny 'Czech Modernism Mirrored and Reflected Infinitely' 2005 Mirrored glass case with hand blown mirrored glass objects
Purchased through funds provided by Bridgitt and Bruce Evans, Kimberly and James Pallotta, Beth and Anthony Terrana, and Nancy B. Tieken in honor of Jill Medvedow 2006.4 The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston