22 August 2007

Man In The Box: Joseph Cornell 1903-1973


A friend schooled me to Joseph Cornell. And well, I think I'm in love. It's like pack-rat art!

This from Wiki:

"JC was 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 lived in New York City for most of his life, in a wooden frame house on Utopia Parkway in Queens. He lived there with his mother and his brother, Robert, who was disabled by cerebral palsy."

Cornell’s process of collecting was simple. He kept things he bought, found, and liked.

Cornell collected source material for his work, which became artistic creations about his inner thoughts, desires, and imagination. Most days Cornell scavenged for relics in New York junk shops and flea markets.

He would sort his purchases into eccentric categories like 'Spiders,' 'Moons,' etc. and then file them into boxes along with his own mementos like love letters to Jennifer Jones and other movie stars or ballet dancers he'd never met. He would then begin creating his art boxes from this reservoir of stuff.

People who visited his home said it felt very much like stepping right into his art. Inspiration for his boxes came in the form of women with whom Cornell had fallen in love, exotic places, imagined adventures Cornell never took, and childhood memories.

Cornell was also interested in ballet, music, and art. He collected his inner thoughts, feelings, and fantasies in a diary.

Cornell was heavily influenced by American Transcendentalists such as Emily Dickinson, Hollywood starlets (to whom he sent boxes he had dedicated to them), the French Symbolists such as Stéphane Mallarmé and Gerard de Nerval, and great dancers of the 19th century ballet such as Marie Taglioni and Fanny Cerrito.

Cornell's christian Science belief that death, matter, time, and mortal mind are illusions allowed him to maintain friendships with these dancers, and others, regarded by the rest of society as long-dead.

He had no formal training in art and his most characteristic works are his highly distinctive "boxes".

These are simple boxes, usually glass-fronted, in which he arranged surprising collections of photographs or Victorian bric-à-brac in a way that has been said to combine the formal austerity of Constructivism with the lively fantasy of Surrealism. Whatever-the-fuck that means!

"Like Kurt Schwitters (the German painter) he could create poetry from the commonplace. Unlike Schwitters, however, he was fascinated not by refuse, garbage, and the discarded, but by fragments of once beautiful and precious objects, relying on the Surrealist technique of irrational juxtaposition and on the evocation of nostalgia for his appeal."

"Once hailed by Salvador Dali as making “the only truly surrealist work to be found in America,” Joseph Cornell is justifiably famous for his unique shadowboxes and collages BUT lesser known is that, between the mid-1930s and early 1960s, Cornell quietly created a group of films that not only amplify and extend the themes of his visual art, but also place him among the masters of avant-garde cinema.

Cornell was a lifelong collector of old films – home movies, b-movies, and oddities found during his obsessive scavenging trips through the flea markets, bookstalls, and curio shops of midcentury Manhattan.

In the 1930's, he began re-editing these films to create eye-opening juxtapositions, in the process becoming what is widely believed to be the first filmmaker ever to use found footage as a basis for filmmaking. In “Jack’s Dream,” a sleeping puppet from an old filmplay is made to seem as if it is dreaming of the sea. “Cotillion” is a tour de force of editing, in which a boisterous children’s party, dangerous circus acts, and dancing girls are all upstaged by an infant who continually falls asleep while trying to eat an apple! " Read the rest of this article here from Eyedrum in Atlanta.

I'll let Joseph's art do the talking from here on. If you wanna learn more about him, just Google Joseph Cornell.


Untitled (Cocatoo and Corks), 1948


"Hotel Eden"




Untitled, 1942


Habitat Group for a Shooting Gallery, 1943


Untitled (Medici Princess), 1948



Untitled (Grand Owl Habitat),1946

4 comments:

Verndigger said...

Hello - this note is to readers of this blog, FYI, regarding the following quote:

"Cornell was heavily influenced by American Transcendentalists such as Emily Dickinson, Hollywood starlets (to whom he sent boxes he had dedicated to them), the French Symbolists such as Stéphane Mallarmé and Gerard de Nerval, and great dancers of the 19th century ballet such as Marie Taglioni and Fanny Cerrito.

Cornell's christian Science belief that death, matter, time, and mortal mind are illusions allowed him to maintain friendships with these dancers, and others, regarded by the rest of society as long-dead."


Christian Science is not spiritualism, and thus does not teach that it is possible to commune with those passed from earthly existence.

you may check this out at Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures

Verndigger

GothamCityInsider said...

What is it then?

Many would disagree with you and say Christian Science is very much so spiritualism. In "Chapter XVII" it does say that death, matter, time, and mortal mind are illusions, does it not?

I know it founded by Mary Baker Eddy and that it was first organised as "the Church of Christ, Scientist".

And like all religions it derives its teachings from the scriptures as understood by its adherents which includes a practice of spiritual healing which extends to the possibility of healing any kind of disharmony, not just illness.

Don't Christian Scientists see sin, disease, and death as illusions resulting from a false sense of separation from God?

I know Christian Scientists see God as omnipotent and that evil does not exist - that Christianity is incompatible with a belief in the reality of evil.

I've read Mary Baker Eddy's "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: Chapter IV
Christian Science Versus Spiritualism" and I still don't get it.

Perhaps I should smoke some pot and read it again? :)

Verndigger said...

"Spiritualism is a religious movement that began in the United States and was prominent in the 1840s–1920s, especially in English-speaking countries. The movement's distinguishing feature is the belief that the spirits of the dead can be contacted by mediums" - widipedia

Yes, GCI, Christian Science DOES see matter sin sickness and death as illusions, unreal in the ultimate sense.

but this is nothing to do with spiritualism, as defined above.

here is the definition of spiritualism from the American Heritage Dictionary: "The belief that the dead communicate with the living, as through a medium."

to my knowledge spiritualism does not teach anything about sin sickness and death being illusionary.

and neither does Christian Science teach communication with the dead is possible, which was my main point, because the article you quoted indicated that Cornell could commune with those passed from earth due to his familiarity with Christian Science.

Verndigger

Anonymous said...

I was also taken aback when it was implied, in Joseph Cornell's bio on wikipedia (never the most reliable source, but nonetheless) that Cornell could communicate with the dead because of his belief in Christian Science. either the writer of this article misspoke- miswrote, rather- or cornell was not truly a christian scientist. mary baker eddy (founder of c.s.) specifically stated "I never could believe in spiritualism. The basis and structure of spiritualism are alike material and physical. Its spirits are so many corporealities limited and finite in character and quality. Spiritualism therefore presupposes Spirit, which is ever infinite, to be a corporeal being, a finite form- a theory contrary to Christian Science." - Science and Health page 71.
I'm actually quite terrible at explaining Christian Science. I really should get better considering I was raised in this religion, but if anyone has any questions about the difference between CS and spiritualism, any other christian scientist would do a far better job of explaining it than I can. all I know is they have nothing in common. a vague description might make it seem like they do, as a previous commenter proved, but I assure you they do not. all I can do is say that I am a christian scientist and I find spiritualism absolutely ridiculous. Sidenote- christian science is NOT to be confused with scientology-- the similar names are extremely frustrating considering the two religions have absolutely NOTHING in common. I've gotten one too many "So... do you like KNOW tom cruise?" questions to not be aware about this common misconception.