Saturday, January 26, 2013

Joseph Cornell

Untitled (Butterfly Habitat) 1940 construction by Joseph Cornell (1903 - 1972)

In Greek and Japanese symbology, the butterfly refers to the soul.
Untitled (Paul and Virginia) 1946-48, detail of a construction by Joseph Cornell. Inspired by a romantic story of a young couple who found happiness on an island.
Museum, 1944-48, construction by Joseph Cornell.  In each small bottle is a tiny object.  The label in the lid lists them. (watchmaker's sweepings, souvenir of Monte Carlo, chimney - sweeper's relic, Mayan feathers, white landscape, etc)  
Swiss Shoot the Chutes, 1941, a game construction by Joseph Cornell.  A collage of the map of Switzerland is cut into to reveal little figures.  When a small wooden ball is dropped in one of them at the top corner, it strikes twelve bells one at a time as it descends the ramp.
Toward the Blue Peninsula (for Emily Dickinson), 1953, white painted construction by Joseph Cornell.  
Dovecote, 1952, construction by Joseph Cornell.   Cornell made a series of Dovecotes in the 1950's, where formal order and purity is offset by the element of play.  The three balls can roll around inside the interior. 

Joseph Cornell's use of the grid, of the dot which is a hole, of the idea of revealing or keeping safe at the same time, and the element of chance and play have been inspirational for my own work.  Like here, here and here.

Source of images in this post:
 Joseph Cornell, Master of Dreams by Diane Waldman


  1. Ah, Cornell--this is a wonderful post Judy, and here are some more images to share--

  2. I do love Joseph Cornell. Thanks for sharing some works I had never seen before.

  3. Well done post Judy on an artist fascinating to me as well. Thanks. -sus

  4. thank you. Cornell's work is exquisite

  5. what a wonderful post Judy, many thanks - I'm just at the start of a City and Guilds embroidery course with grids as the primary them. Being decidedly undereducated on modern art I always enjoy seeing who your posts feature. Thank you MS too fro the link, I'll investigate further ...

  6. Ohh, you've given me a pang [a good pang] in my heart Judy. This man was my favorite artist in my early days of art school...and I realize now how much I'd forgotten about him. Lovely to see your links of inspiration! Thank you so much for this post. It is always such a pleasure to stop by here.


  7. I love Joseph Cornell's work, but I had never seen it this way before. Thanks for showing me a different way of seeing.

  8. this was the exact thing i needed to see tonight. thankyou, judy.

  9. I love that aspect of Cornell's work, the revealing or keeping safe, and I like the collecting and play aspects, too.

  10. Wonderful the way you presented these, and linked to your work. The one for Emily D really made me think, to try to see what he wanted to convey. Love Museum, and the play.

  11. Thanks for reminding me about Joseph Cornell's work, he is an artist I have looked at before but somehow forgotten. I like the fact that you can create your own stories from his assemblages.


Thank you for taking the time to connect. Much appreciated.xx