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Joseph Cornell's Theater of the Mind: Selected Diaries, Letters and Files of a Great American Artist

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Joseph Cornell is at once a legendary yet living presence in American art. His famous boxes, with their ineffably perfect choice of elements - the stuffed birds, the buttons and toys, the fragments of old theatrical posters, the poignant allusions to the worlds of the 19th century ballet and opera - are some of the most recognizable signatures in all of 20th century art. This book is the first extended selection of Cornell's diaries and other written material to be published, and from his writings Cornell emerges...
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1994-01-01 Hardcover New New. There is slight shelf or time wear. Otherwise new. We Ship Every Day! Free Tracking Number Included! International Buyers Are Welcome! ... Satisfaction Guaranteed! Read more Show Less

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Overview

Joseph Cornell is at once a legendary yet living presence in American art. His famous boxes, with their ineffably perfect choice of elements - the stuffed birds, the buttons and toys, the fragments of old theatrical posters, the poignant allusions to the worlds of the 19th century ballet and opera - are some of the most recognizable signatures in all of 20th century art. This book is the first extended selection of Cornell's diaries and other written material to be published, and from his writings Cornell emerges as a deeply dedicated and conscious artist, though one whose personality was every bit as unusual as many had perceived. Cornell used his diaries as he used his boxes, to capture and preserve his passing feelings, his momentary urges, and his anguished hesitations. He was an incessant and brilliant recorder of his thoughts as he considered his art, or traveled to New York to haunt antiquarian bookstores and shops where he collected material for his boxes. We see here his deep immersion in French symbolist poetry and his intense interest in his surrealist contemporaries. We see also his plangent yearning for "les sylphides." the fairies of the ballet world who seemed to be reincarnated for him in the form of certain waitresses, dancers, actresses, and shopgirls of his own world. Cornell corresponded with an astonishing range of people including Parker Tyler, Marianne Moore, Tony Curtis, Robert Motherwell, and Susan Sontag. His letters were often sent in the form of collages, and several of them are reproduced in this book. Mary Ann Caws has edited these diaries from a vast and prolix collection of scribbled notes and journals left by Cornell. Her text, which provides an extended introduction to the life and work of Cornell, traces the unique correspondence of the life, the art, and the writings of a great American artist. In addition to John Ashbery's foreword, an appreciation of Cornell by Robert Motherwell is published here for the first time.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Joseph Cornell seems the perfect 20th-century artist as enigma: he led a frugal life in a small house in Queens, New York, crafting boxes with allusions to 19th-century opera and ballet using scraps of photographs, tiny objects, and found materials in framed combinations that place him among the best of modern artists. Caws has carefully selected about 1/30th of Cornell's diary entries; included many of his letters, which read like poems; added bits and pieces of file materials; and given us a view of the artist's quiet, cautious, and mysterious world in his own words. Caws's introduction and occasional sidebars explaining the context and timing of Cornell's writings are welcome contributions for the reader. Lovingly designed, and as understated as the artist , the book has only one flaw: its limited use of visuals, which might have served to connect the subtle beauty of his art and the ethereal tone of his writings. Recommended for academic, public, and museum libraries.-- David Bryant, New Canaan P.L., Ct.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780500015445
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 7.88 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.43 (d)

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