Happy 109th Birthday, Joseph Cornell

Artsy Editorial
Dec 24, 2012 3:29PM

Born this day in 1903, Joseph Cornell would move to New York City at the age of 18 and never leave. “My work was a natural outcome of my love for the city,” he once said. Cornell would forage in pawn shops and used bookstores throughout the city, looking for objects to repurpose for his artworks. His trademark “shadow boxes” were inspired by one of these explorations: one day in 1931, he spotted compasses in a shop window and boxes in the next window over, and decided to put them together. Cornell’s irrational juxtapositions drew on surrealism to evoke a wistful sense of memory and longing. “Nostalgia ok for Wyeth in isolated New England,” he once said. “What is the answer for New York City?”

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