Internet Weekly Report - Art And Culture

The Art of Joseph Cornell

Tilly Losch 1935

Joseph Cornel - Navigating the Imagination [Bio] Archive 1 and Archive 2
While on vacation, I decided to go to SFMOMA and check out the art exhibits.  One of those exhibits happened to be of Joseph Cornell's artwork - Navigating The Imagination.  I was totally unfamiliar with Cornell's remarkable collages and assemblages, so I decided to check them out.  The first work I looked at was his blue Medici Princess (1952).  I was totally unprepared for the enchanting and almost hypnotic effect this Cornell work had on me.  I had a hard time moving to the next magic wooden box, but I was able to eventually tear myself away from the Blue Princess and view the rest of this grand exhibit, which took up nearly an entire floor of the museum!  I had many more delightful surprises in store to spark my senses and especially my imagination.  By the end of the exhibit, I was converted into a Joseph Cornell fan, who I now consider one of my favorite artists.

His boxes and collages seem to me would be very accessible to both adults and children alike.  In the back of my mind I was thinking: "Hey, I could do this.  I mean, I could create a wooden box.  Put some cutout images, marbles and sticks in it, and presto-chango, I got a work of art!"  But when you see works like the Great Horned Owl (below) or Tilly Losch (above), by then you're thinking: "There's no way in hell I could do anything this damn good or original.  This guy was a genius!"

Untitled (Great Horned Owl With Full Moon) 1942

Untitled (Medici Princess) 1948

According to Adam Gopnik, Cornell was influenced by the collages of Surrealist Max Ernst, but more importantly by the Cubist painter Juan Gris and Cubist poet Guillaume Apollinaire.  Cornell's style including his use of repetitive pictures like in the Medici Princess (above) also influenced Pop artist Andy Warhol.

Some of the other highlights in the exhibit were films by Joseph Cornell, he is one I found on the Internet Rose Hobart 1936.  Also, there was newspaper that Cornell sent to his relatives during the Depression called Goop Joe's Poultry Pages.  Some of the articles, which he typed with a Smith Corona were a hoot, especially the story on Page 19 - Duck Hunter Falls Out of Boat; Drowns.  I was cracking when I read it, and then I saw a young girl read the same article and she cracked up too.  I think Cornell would be pleased to know that his humor is still relevant today especially to his potential fees, filles or faeries as he called young women that caught his eye in New York City.

In conclusion, if you're in the Bay Area or if this traveling exhibition shows up in your neck of the woods, I strongly recommend that you go and see it! 

Untitled (Marine Fantasy with Tamara Toumanova)
early 1940s
Untitled (Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall)
Untitled (bust-length female nude with braid) No Date Untitled (Celestial Fantasy with Tamara Toumanova)
early 1940s

Recent Articles on Joseph Cornell:

Sparkings: Joseph Cornell and the art of nostalgia.

Putting the World in a Box: Joseph Cornell's Inside Stories

Joseph Cornell: thinking inside a box

Joseph Cornell's cabinets of wonder at SFMOMA

Little boxes, big impact

The Life of Joseph Cornell, Via Bogart and Mee by Alexis Soloski

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Internet Weekly Report First Issued on 12/15/2001,
Copyright Internet Weekly Report 2001-2007.  
Last Updated Sunday, 04. November 2007 11:38:03.

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