Saturday, April 8, 2017

Joseph Cornell

Assemblage Greats part 2

One of my other favorite assemblage artists is Joseph Cornell. 
He was one of the first artists to bring this art form into the realm of Fine Art. 
His found-object assemblages can now be seen in museums.
Joseph Cornell assemblage with green parrot



Portrait of Joseph Cornell

“Joseph Cornell (December 24, 1903 – December 29, 1972) was an American artist and sculptor, one of the pioneers and most celebrated exponents of assemblage. Influenced by the Surrealists, he was also an avant-garde experimental filmmaker. He was largely self-taught in his artistic efforts, and improvised his own original style incorporating cast-off and discarded artifacts. He lived most of his life in relative physical isolation, cared for his parents and his disabled brother at home, but remained aware of and in contact with other contemporary artists.”


Joseph Cornell Hotel de l'Etoile: The diplomacy of Lucile Grahn circa 1953 Grand Hotel Fontaine (Bleu Parrot) Joseph Cornell

Cornell's signature art form is the shadow box.  
Like looking through a window into Cornell's own private, magical world, the shadow boxes  invite the viewer to take a peek into his imagination.

Joseph Cornell: Medici Slot-Machine  1942
Joseph Cornell: Medici Slot-Machine  1942

Cornell based all of his assemblage work around found objects, elevating "junk" to the level of "art". He carefully curated his shadowboxes to create interesting compositions of objects set in a three-dimensional space.

"Untitled (Cockatoo with Watch Faces)" (circa 1949) CreditMichael Tropea/VAGA, New York

Although he was never officially part of the Surrealist movement and came to dismiss the Surrealist label in relation to his own work, Surrealism was a major influence on Cornell, inspiring his many unexpected juxtapositions.

Joseph Cornell assemblage with parakeet

A wonderful example of the many shadow boxes Joseph Cornell created in his lifetime, this box combines whimsical found objects including a wooden bird, a ball, bingo chips, stamps, and newspaper.



You can see why I am so drawn to Cornell and his art. 
It speaks to me on many levels:

• I love the simplicity and strength of the work
• the birds and nature motifs
• the use of papers and found objects
• the use of quiet colors


• that he lived a very quiet, solitary life...the shy hermit, the devoted family caretaker
• that he was self-taught, the artistic innocent

Joseph Cornell "Wanderlust" book cover

I received this book for Christmas and keep it on my workbench for inspiration. 


Joseph Cornell "Utopia Parkway" book cover

 I just ordered this book and I am excited to read about the life of Joseph Cornell.


Did I mention...his work was also featured on The Simpson's?


Are there any artists, living or not, with whom you feel a certain kinship? 

Let's be grateful to those creatives who went before us and left things of beauty to inspire us to delve into new realms of thinking and making.

With a little luck, and persistent practice, perhaps we can be that inspiration for the next generation of artists!


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