Joseph Cornell collected objects and printed matter from numerous sources, including antique shops and vintage bookstores throughout New York. He developed his findings into extraordinary assemblages that are as intriguing as they are elegant in their intimate presentation. By composing his tableaux in small boxes or frames, Cornell forces you to lean in and look closely at these miniature worlds. While his work was considered avant-garde at the time of its creation—at the edge of Abstract Expressionism and the onset of Pop art—it also evokes a feeling of nostalgia. Cornell was intrigued by the past, especially Victorian era decor, bric-a-brac, toys, and games. He was also inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s readymade sculptures and the perplexing imagery of the Surrealists. Through unexpected juxtapositions and attention to texture and detail, Cornell turned everyday objects into mysterious treasures full of memory, wonder, and fantasy.
Label from For the Love of Things: Still Life, February 27–May 29, 2016