The new exhibition is now underway at the Royal Academy. Joseph Cornell: Wanderlust, offers an overview of the American artist’s inventive oeuvre. It surveys around 80 of his remarkable box constructions, assemblages, collages and films. The last major solo exhibition of Joseph Cornell in Europe took place nearly 35 years ago. The artist also has a very limited number of works on permanent display in museums across Europe. The exhibition therefore offers a rare opportunity to see rarely lent masterpieces from public and private collections. It offers one of the best chances to admire the work of Joseph Cornell in a large collection of works.
Joseph Cornell never left America and he hardly ever ventured beyond New York City. Despite this the artist set out to travel through history and the continents of the globe in his artwork. He would often even travel through the spiritual realm that is partly where the exhibition title comes from. His works are manifestations of a powerful ‘wanderlust’ of the mind and soul. Collecting also became a central part of Cornell’s creativity. The artist amassed a vast and eclectic personal archive of paper ephemera and found objects. These objects reveal his personal love of things such as opera, ballet, cinema and theatre. Other interests include history, poetry and astronomy, which have all influenced his work.
The artist was entirely self-taught and has often been characterised as an outsider to the New York art scene. In reality however, he was heavily involved with the art movements and artists of the time. His work was regularly exhibited alongside the surrealists and abstract expressionists. Joseph Cornell did however like to maintain his independence from any one group or movement. He counted many vanguard artists among his friends including Marcel Duchamp, Robert Motherwell, and Dorothea Tanning. The exhibition itself has been organised into four sections. These reflect the artistic processes expressed in Cornell’s diaries and notes. You can find out more information about the exhibition on the website here.
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