Artist of Week 4: Joseph Cornell


Joseph Cornell was an American artist and sculptor, born on December 24, 1903, and died on December 29, 1972 at the age of 69.  He was one of the pioneers and one of the most celebrated exponents of assemblage.  He was influenced by the Surrealists, and was an an avant-garde experimental filmmaker.

Cornell was an artist who made boxes called shadow boxes and would put everyday materials and random objects he found in the boxes he made.  Although at first glance, his art may look like something random with no meaning, but if you look specifically at his different pieces, you can tell they have some meanings about life.

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For example, the picture of the wood box with a pink building called Pink Palace, has a bigger meaning than just a regular pink building or palace.  The pink palace looks like a European type in palace in the backdrop of a winter forest.  To me, I think it looks like a magical fantasy world that gives evokes the idea of fairy tales and child’s play.  But since it is closed in a small, sealed space, it also stirs up the idea of an unnatural stillness, which makes it a little eerie.  Another piece of art that he made was called Soap Bubble Set.  He made it using soap and basically a soap set.  He has a round piece of soap as the moon, and he makes the background a deep blue color to represent the night sky.  So with the moon and the dark blue sky, it looks like a peaceful childhood moment with space.

A lot of Cornell’s art has themes with childhood, which I think is interesting because I feel like inside every adult is a child, and Cornell expressed his feelings about it.  For me, I often feel like getting older brings a lot more pressure and stress, and therefore, I wish I could be a child so I could avoid all the adult problems.


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