The beguiling intrigues of Joseph Cornell’s (1903 – 1972) cabinets of Mercuriosities constantly reward the viewer with surprise and delight. His collages and constructions are singular affirmations of his own sense of serenity, nostalgia, enchantment, beauty, and a quite compassionate sprinkling of the extraordinary.
Cornell’s surreal and intensely private world view is crafted out of the mundane and discarded jetsam of everyday life. He eloquently invested the ordinary with mystery, creating magical layered dioramas and subtle collisions full of ambiguity and romance – a kind of remote adoration and glamorous ecstatic “voyaging” to an elusive world.
In these present times of inward reflection, we can freshly appreciate Cornell’s artistic work as a positive reimagining of possibilities fashioned from humble resources. His work epitomises the kind of artistic explorations that emerges through undaunted curiosity, a love of materiality, texture, absurdity, observation, research, patience, and synchronicity.
While we marvel at Cornell’s virtuosity of fragments, his “Down to Earth” sensibilities, delicate mise-en-scène, Victorian parlour paraphernalia, and engagement with life, it is his quiet, gentle, steadfast persistence, and ceaseless quest for knowledge that captivates us. For MAAPS it is essential to our process of thought and design that we value the prosaic, opportune, and unrealised in any project. That our efforts and imagination are always directed to release the magic of place and space.
Joseph Cornell – ISBN 3-7913-1063-1