Dreams of Desire 36 (Girl with Braid)

1991-155-130_1a1
Joseph Cornell-Untitled
In the early 1930’s a young salesman who lived on Utopia Parkway, Queens, while browsing in a bookstore, as was his habit when he had some spare time, came across a book that was to forever change his life . It was Max Ernst’s collage novel La Femme 100 Tetes, and from it’s marvellous pages, the shy and dreamy young man, whose name was Joseph Cornell realised that you didn’t have to be a trained painter to be an artist; art could be made out of everyday objects with the aid of a pair of scissors and a pot of glue. Inspired Cornell would create collages late at night after his mother and his beloved brother Robert, who had cerebral palsy and Joseph cared for, went to bed.

From collages Joseph Cornell went on to assemble his fabulous, intricate  glass-paned shadow boxes that create in miniature beautiful and sublimely mysterious dream-worlds.

The above collage conveys Cornell intense and yearning romanticism. Although in many respects Cornell had a highly successful artistic career and everyone in the art world would visit Cornell when in New York, he remained a reserved and reclusive figure. He never married and remained in his mother’s modest house on Utopia Parkway until his death in 1972.

Advertisements

43 thoughts on “Dreams of Desire 36 (Girl with Braid)

  1. I love those shadow boxes and how he uses the every-day found object / image, but also at times references art history (“the canon”). Here is a link to one I like, “Untitled (Medici Princess)” from 1948, in a private collection. Not an expert, I have no idea of its authenticity, (I mostly research Japanese art and 19th c expositions), but find this interesting.
    (from Web Museum, photographs by Mark Harden: https://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/cornell/cornell.medici-princess.jpg)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Medici Slot Machine boxes is a wonderful series. His work is mysterious, beautiful and dreamy, plus I love that he just created these wonderful boxes of his own accord and fashioned a personal mythology. I am worried now as you are an expert that you will come across my one post on Japanese art (I now very little about it but it tries in with some posts on decadence). Thank you for the comments and support

      Like

      1. Oh fun! I’ll look for your post — but no worries and no one can know everything about anything! I suspect your comments are insightful. Frankly, sometimes the “non-expert” — like my students — is likely to see something we have been “trained” away from noticing.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love those shadow boxes and how he uses the every-day found object / image, but also at times references art history (“the canon”). Here is a link to one I like, “Untitled (Medici Princess)” from 1948, in a private collection. Not an expert, I have no idea of its authenticity, (I mostly research Japanese art and 19th c expositions), but find this interesting.
    (from Web Museum, photographs by Mark Harden: https://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/cornell/cornell.medici-princess.jpg) I just realized there is also a “Medici Boy” https://www.wikiart.org/en/joseph-cornell/untitled-medici-princess-1948. Thanks so much for your post, it’s interesting to read about how the novel was such a catalyst for him.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No, I like Japanese art but I try not to stray too far from my central theme which is Surrealism, the influences on Surrealism i.e. Symbolism/Decadence and Modernism. Well apart from my own fiction/poetry. It is a big enough topic without covering areas which I am unfamiliar with. Oh actually I did a post on a Japanese Surrealist and I think I mentioned Mishima in a story.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, you write such interesting posts so well, it rather proves a theory of mine: sometimes vocation destroys the joy of an avocation. I just read #26, the Fisherman’s Wife — again, thanks for the information–I had not realized Picasso made a version. I’ll be sure to show that next time around I teach about Japanese prints’ impact in Europe. (not useless information!) A friend of mine wrote her dissertation on the shell divers (“ama”) — it was a while back, but I think she talked about the fetishization of them / their occupation. I’ll take a look and send you a link if you like.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes please. I don’t really know much about Japanese art and the image is certainly striking to have come from that period. I do know a bit about about the perception of the Far East in late 19th literature which images like this would have fed.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My friend, Bethany Grenald, studied anthropology at Univ of Michigan where I studied art history and we had a few seminars together. Here is a link to an informal essay she wrote about her time learning to dive with the women. Near the end she mentions sexual activity / associations briefly, but I am pretty sure she wrote more about this elsewhere. https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/61006/3002.pdf.txt;jsessionid=F830EF43B3007E90A8DDB4355217E6C1?sequence=3

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You mentioned Joseph cutting and pasting with a pot of glue to create his art. How much of that could an artist do before the original artist (say the photographer who created the image for a magazine) would be upset about it. Or for example in the case of the girl with the braid, did Cornell need permission to use the ‘girl with the braid’ or is it his own photo?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hmmm good questions…Max Ernst used illustrations from Victorian fictions so copyright was probably not an issue. I do not think this was a photo taken by Joseph (doubtful considering his extreme shyness and the reverence that he shown towards women), he scoured five and dime stores and secondhand shops for images to go into his collages and later boxes. He would often buy a book just to cut out an image. Copyright never seemed to be an issue that I know of. The juxtaposition is the thing with collage, taking an image and giving it a radical new meaning ( that is best case scenario, of course.) Surrealism has been frequently criticised for its use of collage, as it is a means of endlessly recycling worn out and tired ideas and is ripe for recuperation in the Situationist sense.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Ok, I wondered. The less ‘in tact’ an image reused, the better, I’m sure. Like taking just an eye or an arm or leg, for example. It’s an interesting approach to creating, recreating. Thanks for the explanation.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Well Marcel Duchamp took a reproduction whole of the Mona Lisa, drew a moustache on her labelled it L.H.O.O. Q ( she has a hot ass). It caused controversy but not about copyright, after all it was mass reproduced but because of its scurrilous message for a darling of the bourgeoisie.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Collages have been criticised for it endless recycling of ideas by the Situationists for one. Advertising borrows surrealist technique extensively especially the unexpected juxtaposition. As to the crisis of originality that is a big question. Originality is quite a modern conception though, unknown in the Middle Ages or the early modern period.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Right, I hadn’t thought about it that way, but certainly when you look at pilgrimage and the reproduction of relics, in Buddhism especially, the “original” doesn’t apply the way it does now. Good point.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Right, and in painters’ workshops, copying the ‘master’ was part of the apprenticeship as was working on certain areas and leaving others to be finished by the master of the shop; it is part of art history becoming a formal discipline, in the 19th c, along with connoisseurship / authentication for collections and museums… Interesting, something I haven’t thought about much, take for granted and forget. I am enjoying your blog and followers’ posts, too. Thanks, Mr. Cake.

        Like

  5. I guess I mean by thoughts, anything, but also it occurred to me thinking about juxtaposition as a strategy: how an image’s meaning can change completely once out of the hands of the author / artist and appropriated or re-used by someone else–maybe I am seeing a connection where there is none. Just curious.

    Like

  6. This is fantastic. Norman Bates keeps running through my head, regardless, the artwork of Joseph Cornell is terrific. This untitled piece is so beautifully fragile and filled with the feelings of vulnerability (blue-violet), I also want to mention, it’s gorgeous. The rough edges are amazing adding so much to the vibe of the piece, and important. Wonderful post Mr. Cake, thank you.
    ~ Miss Cranes

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s