Joseph Cornell's Manual of Marvels: How Joseph Cornell reinvented a French agricultural manual to create an American masterpiece

Overview

A fabulous facsimile of an almost unknown masterpiece by Joseph Cornell, presented in a box, along with a volume of essays and an interactive DVD
One of Joseph Cornell’s favorite pastimes was to meander through the used bookstalls of lower Manhattan, sorting through old books, magazines, postcards, photos, and other ephemera in search of items to spark his creative impulses. Sometime in the early 1930s he came upon the Journal d’Agriculture Practique (Volume 21, 1911), a ...

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Overview

A fabulous facsimile of an almost unknown masterpiece by Joseph Cornell, presented in a box, along with a volume of essays and an interactive DVD
One of Joseph Cornell’s favorite pastimes was to meander through the used bookstalls of lower Manhattan, sorting through old books, magazines, postcards, photos, and other ephemera in search of items to spark his creative impulses. Sometime in the early 1930s he came upon the Journal d’Agriculture Practique (Volume 21, 1911), a voluminous handbook of advice for farmers. Though he was very much an urban creature, he adored French culture of that period, and the book was filled with charming black and white engraving and photographs of pigs, horses, vegetables, and farm machinery. Over time Cornell altered and reinvented many of the pages in the Journal. He inserted collages, photomontages, and occasional drawings; he crossed out words in the text and made French puns with others. Hand-colored engravings, cutouts, and lift-ups intricately transport the reader from page to page. The dazzling elegance of Cornell’s work on the Journal has rarely been viewed. It was discovered in his basement studio soon after his death in 1972 and is now in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Due to its fragility, the work is not well known, even among Cornell scholars. Now, in a unique venture, sixty of the most extraordinary pages have been re-created in virtual facsimile, with cutouts, glue-ons, and other unique handmade details. Included in a specially designed box are a DVD of the entire work, including pop-up commentaries, and a volume of illustrated essays on the Journal and Cornell’s artistic practice.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

For much of his life, Joseph Cornell (1903-1972) was a semi-recluse, but on lower Manhattan's famed Fourth Avenue Book Row, he could be seen as a habitual browser. One day in the early thirties, he happened there upon a dilapidated copy of the Journal d'Agriculture Practique. What other Depression era bookstall regulars might have rightly regarded it as a ragged old manual, but to Cornell, it was gold. He brought it home and began annotating it with collages, drawings, photomontages, engravings, cutouts, lift-ups. There it remained until long after his death, too fragile to be exhibited in its full reconstituted splendor. This magical act of recovery, accomplished with a DVD and an accompanying book, gives us an incomparable new view of a very private act of creation. Editor's recommendation.

The New York Times Book Review
…marvelous…The contents come in a faux-wooden box, lined in blue, with a red ribbon inside—to be unpacked like the pieces of a board game. And unlike most of Cornell's work, with which you are allowed to take in all the whimsical detail only from afar, here you can touch and run your fingers along the cutouts and tissues, unfold bits of paper and feel his special genius at work. As you hold the book in your hands, each page reveals new secrets.
—Julie Bloom
Gallery & Studio
“[A] unique publishing event.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780500516492
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson
  • Publication date: 11/5/2012
  • Edition description: Facsimile
  • Pages: 152
  • Sales rank: 815,735
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 2.10 (d)

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