Monday, 31 March 2008

Joseph Cornell - "Collage=reality associated"

A while ago Roma did a lecture on Identities and the artist Joseph Cornell was mentioned. He was the artist that really reflected what our module would be about, so I did some research on him to get an idea on what his work is about and how it could inspire me.
Joseph Cornell made boxes. The unique visual art dated from 1903-1972 was assembled boxed collages. By collecting and carefully placing found objects in small, glass front, Cornell created visual poems in which surface, form, texture, and light play together. Using things we can see, Cornell made boxes about things we cannot see; ideas, memories, fantasies and dreams. 
He loved to scour old book shops and second hand stores looking for souvenirs, theatrical memorabilia, old prints and photographs, music stores and French literature.
Being a symbolist, Cornell used the found materials that reside in his boxes- page birds, clay pipes , clock springs, balls and rings- to hint at abstract ideas. A metal spring from a discarded wind up clock may evoke the passage of time, a ball might represent a planet or the luck associated with a playing game. Although his constructions are enveloped in nostalgia- the longing for something that happened long ago in the past and far away- the appearance is throughly modern and beautiful.
His work from the Surrealists in that, while they were interested in unexpected, he was more interested in finding poetic connections of meaning between disparate objects. The miniature world in itself has a unique charm, and when these few objects are isolated in such a way, they force us to really look at them, perhaps for the first time, and to think about their possible meanings. The spareness of the compositions also contributes to the exclusiveness.
This is one of the examples of the work Cornell creates. 'The Hotel Eden' The chief emblem is a caged parrot, the innocent resident of Hotel Eden. It can be noted that once more the image of a bird is represented in Cornell's work. It may symbolize an emblem of freedom, though the bird is secluded behind material frames, as if it is a cage.
The piece of black thread going through the box across the different inner frames, from the top part which seems to represent orbits, to outer space, to the birds beak, and down to the bottom of the box which leads to emptiness. This could be interpreted as a spiral link between the various universes depicted here and materializes Cornell's sense of interconnections in all luring matters.
Moreover, one can notice that the elements used in this box are filled with strong relating true qualities. The two pieces of paper stuck at the bottom of the box are worn out and degraded, they bear the imprint of the passage of time and the 'Hotel Eden' alludes to a paradise lost, while the egg may symbolize birth and the renewal of life.

Researching into Joseph Cornell has inspired me for the upcoming project and has filled my head with different ideas. How everything of Cornell's art work has a meaning or symbolizes something fits in perfectly to what we are doing.   

1 comment:

sanda said...

I appreciate seeing the box again. I doubt Cornell was intentionally going for symbolism in re parrot (2 ways cited)or for the thread. The thread "works" as a way to move the viewer's eye and fun,since it's in the bird's mouth. My own work has been influenced by first having seen Cornell's boxes when I was about 20.