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PROJECTS 84: Josiah McElheny -
The Alpine Cathedral & the City-Crown

At MoMA/The Museum of Modern Art

By Glenn Loney



The MoMa/The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues
212 708-9400

Closing April 9, 2007

Inspired by the innovative German Modernist Architect Bruno Taut and the Novelist & Utopian-Fabulist Paul Scheerbart, Josiah McElheny has created two impressive glass-constructions that evoke gleaming simplifications of their Suggestive-Titles.

Both of them Utopian Visionaries, Taut & Scheerbart believed that glass ''possessed spiritual qualities that would transform & reform humanity.'' That has not yet been satisfactorily demonstrated, even by Richard Meier, with his Glass High-Rises…

What you actually get is a lot of unwanted Afternoon Sun, requiring floor-to-ceiling shades, drapes, or blinds.

But that’s a Condo-buyer’s Problem, not one for art-lovers who flock to see McElheny’s charming glass-confections.

Both are lit from below & above, with the lights changing in color & intensity. The Cathedral looks like a mini-monument of levels of hexagon-shaped coalesced glass flower-vases. The City Crown is similarly constructed, with squared hollow-glass-elements, topped with pyramidal-shapes.

The taller of the two glassworks certainly suggests shafts of pure Alpine-Ice, while the squatter one looks like an immense Jell-O mold. Actually, it seems somewhat derived from Taut’s Glashaus Pavilion for the Deutsche Werkbund Exhibition in Köln, in 1914.

Your scribe featured this stunning structure in his Art Deco News series some years ago!