Endlessly Repeating Twentieth Century Modernism

Josiah McElheny (American, born in 1966)


94 1/2 x 92 3/4 x 92 3/4 in. (240 x 235.6 x 235.6 cm)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Hand-blown mirrored glass, low iron and transparent mirror, metal, wood, electric lighting

On View

Richard and Nancy Lubin Gallery (Gallery 259)


Contemporary Art



Deploying the most sophisticated and virtuoso glass-working techniques combined with a conceptual rigor, McElheny creates sculptures and installations that explore crucial moments in the development of modernity, its visual and theoretical undercurrents. Over the past four years, McElheny has produced a series of works based on a conversation between sculptor Isamu Noguchi and designer/architect Buckminster Fuller that took place in 1929 during which they discussed a world of form without shadow; totally reflective forms inhabiting a totally reflective environment that would be totally self-enclosed - the perfect utopian environment. ‘Endlessly Repeating Twentieth Century Modernism’ presents the viewer with a seemingly infinite repetition of reflections of modernist design (decanters, vases, boxes, and bottles based on designs from Scandinavia, Italy, the former Czechoslovakia, and Austria from c. 1910 -1990) that attempts to depict the capitalist notion that all objects are eternally repeatable, that everything can be remanufactured endlessly without regard to era, geography, or culture. McElheny has stated that he aims to explore how “the act of looking at a reflective object could be connected to the mental act of reflecting on an idea.”


The Artist, Donald Young Gallery, Chicago, 2007; Sold to MFA, Boston, September 2007. (Accession date September 19, 2007)

Credit Line

Museum purchase with funds donated by the Linde Family Foundation


© Josiah McElheny 2007