Dreams of Desire 37 (Blue Hotel)

Joseph Cornell-Untitled (Hotel De L’Etoile Series) 1952
Joseph Cornell (see Dreams of Desire 36 (Girl with Braid) was passionately attached to the idea of travel even though he very rarely left his home state of New York during his life. He created several series of boxes featuring birds, which act as surrogates for his fantasies of flight, and also of hotels, some of which are so otherworldly and celestial they suggest rest-stops for demigods and goddess as they travel between the constellations  more than overnight accommodation for regular humans.

During the 1950’s produced several boxes in the Hotel De L’Etoile series. The word etoile means star and the boxes play with the double meaning of star, the ones in the sky and the ones of the stage and screen. Both kinds were equally unattainable for Cornell, despite several intense platonic relationship with ballerinas; yet he remained a devoted and lucid observer of the night-sky, ballet and movies.

The above box from the series features a cut-out from a girlie magazine, slightly obscured by a singular column. The glass is blue, Cornell’s favourite colour along with white, a shade of blue that evokes sex, melancholy and a luscious eternal night.

30 thoughts on “Dreams of Desire 37 (Blue Hotel)

    1. Agreed. If Cornell had been able to travel (he couldn’t because of his family circumstances) and hadn’t be so shy with the ladies, his art would have been completely different, if it existed at all. Glad you enjoyed.

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      1. There’s such a ‘paradox’ with artists and their art. I whirl this around in my head all the time. The factors that combine to make great art, music, literature, often make the artist in real life sad, mad, miserable… so would they trade a bit of their art for a bit of contentment? Happiness? And then paradoxically, the thing that results, these marvelous creations wouldn’t be possible otherwise and then would that lead to discontentment? The loss of expression, of creativity? What if you couldn’t write anymore but life was easy? You know what I mean?Around it goes – the serpent chases his tail.

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      2. It’s a big question what takes precedence art or life? Their is a movie from the 40’s called the Red Shoes that deals with ballet and at one point the impresario tells the prime ballerina, life is so unimportant, you only live to dance. Well that is a bit extreme, but that is the argument in a nutshell.

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    1. Indeed. He was unable to travel because he cared for his brother who had cerebral palsy for his entire life and later his mother. He was a reclusive and shy man who was more comfortable in the company of women. He was quite successful as an artist however and the surrealists, abstract expressionists and the pop artist would all visit him. John Lennon and Yoko Ono were also visitors. His work is indeed beautiful, modern and yet accessible.

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      1. So interesting, and I have since looked into his work and story. I am surprised that I don’t remember him from my art history courses. Certainly a magical and other worldliness to his creation. Cheers, friend!

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  1. Reading the comments is often as educational as reading the post! Time well spent, pottering around the Mr. Cake Shop and Meg’s Bakery. As for exchanging happiness for art: no way. Some of us can only write from the bottom of that well and in most cases (admittedly not all) the writing is paramount.

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  2. Another wonderful post Mr. Cake. Cornell’s work is stunning, his work displays a longing that he was unable to fulfill. There’s a mad beauty you can’t deny, to the eerie darkness that is the night.
    ~ Miss Cranes

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Are we, that is a very good question. I am feeling a little bleak at the moment and not too sure of anything at the moment, lest of all my artistic capabilities, if any. But everyone is in some respect an artist.

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