Made of Glass: Josiah McElheny on the Abstract Body

NEW YORK—Although the elegant displays in the main gallery resemble cases found at exclusive retailers, you’d never know that the blown-glass works by Josiah McElheny at Andrea Rosen are inspired by fashion. What appears to be a series of intricately formed vases is actually a collection of abstract, figurative shapes grouped just so and paired with two-legged displays, the two components forming one carefully envisioned sculpture.

The concept of this intriguing exhibit is unlikely to be gleaned through pure observation—a thorough explanation is required.

“Some thoughts about the abstract body,” McElheny’s exhibition of new works includes eight such sculptures. According to the gallery, the show “explores the connections between the history of visual abstraction and clothing/fashion created by artists over the past century. McElheny uses historical examples of artistic clothing and costume design as a starting point to present his own set of models for abstract form today.”

Indeed, it’s highly conceptual and intellectual, in most respects. If you look closely, at the case above, the third work from the left is channeling a strapless cocktail number.

Born in Boston, McElheny lives and works in New York, where his show at Andrea Rosen Gallery was on view from May 19 to June 30, 2012. Today was the last day, but a few other institutions will feature his work in the coming months. Whitechapel Gallery in London is exhibiting his work through July 20. In the United States, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (June 22 to Oct. 14, 2012) and the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio (Fall), are exhibiting distinct explorations of his work.

All photos by Arts Observer

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