2011 Student Research Conference:
24th Annual Student Research Conference

Flotsam and Jetsam: Joseph Cornell's Place in the History of Collecting
Valerie Lazalier
Dr. Julia DeLancey, Dr. Sara Orel, and Prof. John Bohac , Faculty Mentors

Similar to the way Renaissance and Enlightenment era collectors utilized cabinets of curiosities to conceptualize the limits of the known world, the twentieth-century American artist Joseph Cornell collected ephemera for his assemblage boxes (which resemble micro-cabinets) and thus placed himself within the history of collecting. Studying the prominent historic collections of individuals such as Ole Worm and John Tradescant, this paper will compare the motivation, method, and outcome of Cornell's collecting with those of his predecessors. Ultimately, this paper will argue that although many of Cornell's assemblage pieces were clearly responding to earlier precedents in collecting and display, Cornell presented his 'curiosities' in a way that responded to his own modern view of the cosmos and examined what Andre Breton characterized as the displayed object's relationship with the inner consciousness.

Keywords: Joseph Cornell, Cabinets of Curiosities, Collecting, Modern Art

Topic(s):Art History

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 35-1
Location: OP 2121
Time: 1:15

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