Monday, October 13, 2008

Joseph Cornell

Untitled, c 1950. Mixed media in a wooden box. h15 x 10 1/2 in. Private Collection
This container acts as a metaphor for the whole world, inhabited by these strange items. It is also a treasury of curiosities that is compelling to explore and evokes a mood of nostalgia.
The fragments of once ornamental or beautiful objects come together in a magical and dream-like way. This is Cornell's genius, and why he has proved so popular over the years. The randomness of these 'assemblages', as they are known, reflects Cornell's interest in the irrationality of Surrealism. Nevertheless, a sense of order and precision pervades pieces such as this. Of his own work Cornell once said, 'Shadow boxes become poetic theatres or settings wherein are metamorphosed the elements of a childhood pass time.' (Butler, Van Cleave, Stirling)
Joseph Cornell is one of my favorite artists - he never disappoints. I love the randomness of some of the items he chooses and how they take on meanings when paired with other items. His work suggests old objects and possessions have their own history as well as being connected to the viewer's memory. In that way, the viewer can 'make a piece their own' . His work is genius and groundbreaking in the course of art history - in my humble opinion!
p.s. sorry the quality of the photograph is not great... it's tough to get a good image once the sun goes down.


mawakeley said...

i am also a fan of joseph cornell. i've seen his work up close at the philly art museum and it is awesome, completely open to interpretation as you said. the first time i saw his work was in a house and garden article which i clipped in the early 80's. his work still fascinates me.

great post :)

artslice said...

Thanks Mary Ann...I hope to see his work in person some day.