Joseph Cornell United States, 1903-1972


Joseph Cornell (b. 1903, Nyack, New York; d. 1972, New York, New York) was a pioneer of the art of assemblage, a practice with origins in early Cubist constructions in which art is made by assembling assorted, often readymade, elements. Working with mostly found objects, Cornell created collages, experimental film, and assemblages in the form of shadow boxes. By sourcing objects that displayed what he called “the beauty of the commonplace,” Cornell applied the Surrealist method of juxtaposition, evoking both curiosity and nostalgia in viewers. The fantastical and enchanting configurations of the artist’s boxes and collages reveal the inner creativity behind a highly private and imaginative artist whose practice played a crucial role in later developments in techniques of appropriation in Pop Art. Cornell has had retrospectives at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1966); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1970); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1980); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2007); and the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2015). His work is held in international museum collections including the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Tate, London; Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.