Smashing Glass: Tim Button Catches Some Great Art at the ICA in Boston

I’ve been a regular visitor to Boston since the late 1990s when we here at Stedila Design began a long-term relationship with the city’s peerless clothing store, LouisBoston. (I’ve blogged about our design for the new Louis store at Fan Pier here.) Like fellow Designers Collaborative member Barry Goralnick, I’m a big fan of Beantown, which has really ramped up its game in recent years. (Barry has previously blogged about two major architectural projects: Norman Foster’s addition to the Boston Fine Arts Museum, and Renzo Piano’s addition to the Isabella Gardner Museum. Another great new building is right across the boat basin from our LouisBoston store: The Institute of Contemporary Art by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the brilliant architects responsible for two great public projects here in Manhattan: the repurposed High Line and the revamped Lincoln Center. I dropped in to the ICA when I was up in Boston recently and was blown away by an amazing exhibition of works by the glass artist Josiah McElenhy. He creates wonderful objects—vessels that hold tears; chandeliers based on the iconic crystal-starburst fixtures at the Metropolitan Opera (there are three of them in a row that you can walk around, as if the Big Bang theory was transposed into light pendents); Buckminster Fuller-inspired sculptures hanging in space, which are funny and beautiful. The show runs through October 14. Check it out if you possible can.

ICA Boston designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and photographed by Iwan Baan

The Institute of Contemporary Art at Fan Pier in Boston, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Photograph by Iwan Baan

ICA Boston exxterior photographed by Iwan Baan

The ICA, like many Diller Scofidio + Renfro urban projects, includes bleacher seating from which the public can enjoy city views–here, an uninterrupted panorama of the Boston Harbor. 

The Theory of Tears, 1995. Handblown glass, velvet panel, typewriter ink on paper, brass mounting hardware, sheet glass, stained wood.

Josiah McElheny’s The Theory of Tears, 1995, a sculpture consisting of two dozen empty glass vials in uniform rows in a wooden cabinet. It’s part of a thrilling exhibition of the glass artist’s work at the ICA in Boston, closing October 14.

Island Universe, 2008. Handblown and press-molded glass, chrome-plated aluminum, electric lighting, rigging.

Josiah McElheny’s Island Universe, 2008, a sculptural group made of handblown and press-molded glass, chrome-plated aluminum, electric lighting, and rigging. 

Collection of Glass Concerning the Search for Infinity (detail), 1998-2011. Handblown glass plates, framed linotypes and photographs, brass mounting hardware, silk, wood. Photo-John Kennard.

Josiah McElheny’s Collection of Glass Concerning the Search for Infinity (detail), 1998-2011. Handblown glass plates, framed linotypes and photographs, brass mounting hardware, silk, wood. Photograph by John Kennard.

Czech Modernism Mirrored and Reflected Infinitely, 2005. Handblown mirrored glass, transparent and industrial mirror, chrome metal laminate, wood, electric lighting.

Josiah McElheny’s Czech Modernism Mirrored and Reflected Infinitely, 2005. Handblown mirrored glass, transparent and industrial mirror, chrome metal laminate, wood, electric lighting.