new-york

Josiah McElheny

In “Non-Decorative Beautiful Objects,” his first solo show in New York, Josiah McElheny carefully placed his astonishingly elegant blown-glass pieces into the rickety frame of art-historical discourse. All too aware of the relegation of his metier to the status of mere craft, McElheny confronts some of the philosophical and historical sources of aesthetic distinction, and, in his modest fashion, blows them away.

The show comprised five mini-installations or projects, each of which elaborated on a real or invented scenario laid out in an accompanying text. In Verzelini’s Acts of Faith, 1996, for example, McElheny put thirty-seven delicately blown-glass objects into the kind of wall-mounted display case one might find in a historical society or antique store. The text inside the case attributes the works to a certain Giacomo Verzelini, “a Venetian glassblower who worked in Venice, Antwerp,

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