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"Conceptual Drawings for a Chandelier, 1965"Josiah McElheny

May 29, 2008

Josiah McElheny describes the inspiration and creative process behind his first film, Conceptual Drawings for a Chandelier 1965 (2005). Inspired by the discovery of The Big Bang in 1965, McElheny aims to recreate the momentous scientific revelation through the Lobmeyr chandeliers at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

McElheny recounts his first encounter with the chandeliers during a visit to the opera, likening them to “some pop image of The Big Bang—some explosion of matter and light.”

More information and credits


Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Camera & Sound: Nick Ravich. Editor: Jennifer Chiurco. Artwork courtesy: Josiah McElheny. Thanks: The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Josiah McElheny

Josiah McElheny creates finely crafted, handmade glass objects that he combines with photographs, text, and museological displays to evoke notions of meaning and memory. Whether recreating miraculous glass objects pictured in Renaissance paintings or modernized versions of non-extant glassware from documentary photographs, McElheny’s work takes as its subject the object, idea, and social nexus of glass. Influenced by the writings of Jorge Luis Borges, McElheny’s work often takes the form of “historical fiction”—which he offers to the viewer to believe or not. Part of McElheny’s fascination with storytelling is that glassmaking is part of an oral tradition, handed down generation to generation, artisan to artisan.

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Modeling the History of the Universe

Josiah McElheny discusses the inspiration for his 2005 film Conceptual Drawings for a Chandelier, 1965, shot at The Metropolitan Opera in New York.

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Josiah McElheny

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