Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Joseph Cornell - Royal Academy

Joseph Cornell, Untitled (Pinturicchio Boy), 1942-52
Joseph Cornell: Wanderlust is at the Royal Academy until 27 September 2015.
I love Joseph Cornell's work even though it is rich in qualities that I generally dislike or resist (in art and in life): whimsy, sentimentality, nostalgia, fantasy, surrealism. However, there is a poetry in the best of his work which completely transcends those tropes. His boxed (sometimes 'caged') assemblages of found objects - balls, bottles, feathers, shells, maps, photographs - achieve a deeply affecting melancholy and mystery which make them much more interesting than the sum of their parts. Film stars and faces from Renaissance paintings trapped in arcane 'slot machines' gaze out sadly; maps, souvenirs and labels evoke the romance and 'memory' of foreign travel never taken. Assembled by a shy man, who lived at the gloriously named Utopia Parkway (New York), these objects constitute a remarkable and visionary body of work.
Read a feature article by Olivia Laing and reviews by Laura Cumming, Alastair Sooke, Martin Gayford, Rachel Cooke and Jonathan Jones.
Click on images to enlarge; NB images have been selected before visiting the exhibition so may not all be included in the show.
Joseph Cornell, Untitled (Soap Bubble Set), 1936
Joseph Cornell, Tilly Losch, c1935

Joseph Cornell, L'Egypte de Mlle Cléo de Mérode, cours élémentaire d'histoire naturelle, 1940
Joseph Cornell, Untitled (Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall), 1945-46
Joseph Cornell, Untitled (Medici Princess), c1948
Joseph Cornell, Untitled (Medici Prince), c1952
Joseph Cornell, Untitled (The Hotel Eden), c1945
Joseph Cornell, Habitat Group for a Shooting Gallery, 1943
Joseph Cornell, Toward the "Blue Peninsular", 1951-52

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