Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Joseph Cornell Boxes

I've discovered Joseph Cornell and his boxes!

I felt terribly ashamed a couple of days ago when I realised that I had never heard about Joseph Cornell and his boxes before. The feeling was maybe more like some sort of disappointment in myself because of my ignorance all that time about such a fantastic artist! 

When I saw the boxes, I mean the photographs of the boxes, I looked at them again and again. They were the materialized form of the maker's very dreams, memories and fantasies. Each box seemed to have been assembled by a grown-up man with a child's enthusiasm.  I was carried away with each box to an unknown time and place. The little trinkets, old photographs, souveniers etc. he brought together in each box seem as if captivated in little drawers of the maker's fantasies and, strangely enough, brought to life in several combinations in the very same boxes at the same time. 

As a person who can also spend a whole life at second-hand shops and junk shops, as Cornell did, I know how it feels when you hold a used item in your hands and the stream of possibilities concerning the owner or its very story until it ended up in that second-hand shop bursts out. That's why, I think, the lure of the boxes become more irresistible with the isolated submerged stories of all those items they stage/host/captivate. However, the boxes are still empty enough to let the viewer wander around the realm in the box. They are never crowded or over-loaded. The eye has enough emptiness to linger inside the box.

Well, there are a lot more things to learn about Cornell and his boxes, I know. It's really difficult to describe how I feel about my discovery for now. However, when I look at Cornell's boxes, I have a feeling that I met the person I've been ever looking for in my life. I hope I will ever be able to see the boxes in person one day as they were meant to be!


Tilly Losch
c. 1935
10 x 9 1/4 x 2 1/8 in.
Collection Mr. and Mrs. E. A. Bergman, Chicago

Defense d'Afficher
8 15/16 x 13 15/16 x 2 1/8 in.
Collection Denise and Andrew Saul

Untitled (Medici Boy)
13 15/16 x 11 3/16 x 3 7/8 in.
Estate of Joseph Cornell

A Swan Lake for Tamara Toumanova
(Homage to the Romantic Ballet)
Box construction: painted wood, glass pane, 
photostats on wood, blue glass, mirrors, 
painted paperboard, feathers, velvet, and
9 1/2 x 13 x 4 in.
The Menil Collection, Houston, Texas

Untitled (Cockatoo and Corks)
c. 1948
14 3/8 x 13 1/2 x 5 5/8 in.
Private collection

Untitled (Medici Princess)
c. 1948
17 5/8 x 11 1/8 x 4 3/8 in.
Private collection

Untitled (Solar Set)
c. 1956-58
11 1/2 x 16 1/4 x 3 5/8 in.
Collection Donald Karshan, New York

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