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Joseph Cornell

New York, USA, 1903–1972


Joseph Cornell (American, 1903-1972). Shadow boxes become poetic theater or settings wherein are metamorphosed the elements of a childhood pastime – Joseph Cornell. Widely considered one of the seminal American artists of the 20th century, Joseph Cornell pioneered assemblage through his boxed constructions and collages made from found materials. Generally referred to as “shadow boxes,” the resulting pieces are dream-like miniature tableaux that inspire the viewer to see each component in a new light. Cornell often used shadow boxes to address recurrent subjects of interest such as childhood, space, and birds. Cornell’s works are held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Tate Gallery in London, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, among others.

Art photo Courtesy of The Whitney Museum of American Art
Profile photo by David Gahr, courtesy of  Sotheby’s