Joseph Cornell: Collages

Untitled (“Fountain of Youth”), ca. 1959
mixed media collage on board in original frame, 12 x 9 inches

Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition JOSEPH CORNELL: Collages from March 6 to April 26, 2003 in conjunction with the exhibition NOT EXACTLY PHOTOGRAPHS.

Joseph Cornell began creating collages in the 1930s and soon turned his efforts to the construction of “boxes”, for which he is better-known today.  He returned to the collage medium with a fresh enthusiasm during the last decade of his life.  The twenty-two collages and three boxes on exhibition are primarily from this time, the late 1950s and 1960s.

Orpheus and Eurydice, 1960s
collage, 12-1/6 x 8-7/8 inches (sheet)

The presented works contain images culled from popular and everyday sources, establishing a harmonious balance of the esoteric and commonplace.  There exists in each work evidence of Cornell’s most well known motifs, Renaissance figures, celestial and astronomical bodies, birds and animals, and references to the Romantic ballet.  By manipulating and rearranging the chosen images, he created surreal and often haunting narratives.  Cornell frequently devoted as much attention to the back of the works as he did to the visible surfaces, covering the underside of the frame and mount with various book papers and magazine clippings.

Cornell’s impact on subsequent collage artists can be seen in the works of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, both of whom have works included in the coinciding exhibition, NOT EXACTLY PHOTOGRAPHS.

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