27 April 2016–2 April 2017
Josiah McElheny’s first solo museum exhibition in Austria, ‘The Ornament Museum’, is presented by MAK, Vienna. The New York-based artist has created a new installation in the form of a full-scale glass and wood pavilion, placed within MAK’s permanent collection of Viennese objects from around 1900. The commission reinterprets the language of Viennese Modernism, bringing to bear contemporary questions surrounding art, architecture and performance.
The pavilion was designed in collaboration with Chicago architect and exhibition designer John Vinci. The structure and proportion recall Josef Hoffman’s design for the Austrian pavilion at the ‘Exposition international des Artes décoratifs et industriels modernes’, which took place in Paris in 1925 and helped to spark a new modernist vision.
The installation comprises over 100 individual glass panels overlaid with seven different ornamental motifs designed by McElheny, inspired by Kolomon Moser’s 1902 studies for ornamental form. Performances take place inside the pavilion wherein a performer offers visitors individual tours asking them to contemplate the hidden meanings of the patterns.
The artist explores the historical issues of particular relevance to Vienna in the early 20th Century, including competing modes of aesthetics and developments in psychology, while at the same time continuing to explore issues that underpin much of his practice, such as performance and the act of looking, and experimentation with glass as a medium.
Josiah McElhney: The Ornament Museum
Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art (MAK)
+43 1 711 36 248
Josiah McElheny ‘The Ornament Museum, Design’ (2014). Drawing and collage. Courtesy of the artist and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago, White Cube, London