Joseph Cornell was a consummate collector and creator in the found arts. He assembled images of birds and miniature hot air balloons, memorabilia and souvenirs, vintage photographs and old prints, pieces of musical scores and French literature, alabaster dolls and apothecary bottles, corks, leaves, branches and all kinds of found objects that caught his eye. He was a master at using these everyday and often forgotten objects to reveal abstract ideas, gifting his dreamlike boxed creations as playful gifts to personal friends or imaginative puzzles for fun. A true artist creates because he can’t help himself – he or she is driven by something deep inside not motivated by fame, money or status – rather the mere act of creating is enough. Joseph Cornell was this true of an artist, working by day to care for his younger brother Robert, who was disabled with cerebral palsy, and creating his surreal boxes in the evenings.
All images of Joseph Cornell’s work are from the Web Museum, Paris. Photos by Mark Harden.