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Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – September 20, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: New York Review Books Classics
  • Paperback: 88 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics (September 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590174860
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590174869
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It's hard to do justice to the charm and power of Joseph Cornell's boxes. His reliance on collage, indifference to technical display, and Surrealist mining of private obsession make him very much a modern artist, yet his work also brings to mind bourgeois parlors, the tidy vitrines of collectors, and the odds and ends children carry around for comfort and distraction. It is an art at once hermetic and matter-of-fact, sophisticated and simple. Appropriately, this study is neither a straightforward critical account of Cornell's art nor a merely literary embellishment of it, but rather a parallel text: written by Simic ( Hotel Insomnia ), one of our best poets, it includes his own poems and reminiscences, as well as quotations from a variety of other writers. Simic mingles biography and critical discussion with selections of writings from the artist's notebooks. The book emerges as a piece of writing constructed along the enigmatic lines of Cornell's art. And that art, as Simic sees it, gathers from the scattered pieces of the American past a new, redeeming reality; at heart, this art is a religious practice. Only seemingly random, Simic's approach develops both the plain detail of Cornell's life and illuminates the nature of his work. Illustrations.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

The most sustained literary response thus far to Cornell's boxes, montages, and films...Inclusive, free-wheeling, dramatic - a mixture of evocation and observation, as lucid and shadowy as the imagination it celebrates. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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The writing by the poet Simic is a piece of art in itself.
Shirley C. Wilson
Then you will love this book of short essays and responses to Joseph Cornell's work by our Poet Laureate.
Pera
Poet Charles Simic has written a beautiful meditation on the work of Joseph Cornell.
N.K.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By patrick Thompson on August 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
Reading Dime-Store Alchemy is a fine way to get to know Joseph Cornell's work (and of course Charles Simic's). Simic uses a writing style which pieces together different elements of Cornell's favorite authors and poets, beautifully reflecting the montage operation created by Cornell himself. As Simic ambiguously reveals aspects of Cornell's life in New York City, the reader finds him/herself on the same search for an understanding of beauty that the artist spent his entire life investigating. Don't miss it!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Shirley C. Wilson on May 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This elegant book reminded me of "Einstien's Dreams." The book is about the genius of imagination. Cornell's provincial life gave him the opportunity to observe his world closely and let it expand into his art. The writing by the poet Simic is a piece of art in itself.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Pera on August 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Then you will love this book of short essays and responses to Joseph Cornell's work by our Poet Laureate. It's amll and without a dustjacket, quite elegant and easy to take with you to read when you find yourself with a few spare minutes.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This adorable book is a pleasure to hold in the hand! 7.25" x 5" and bound in midnight blue cloth lettered in silver and with a Cornell image applied to the front cover it is the perfect size and shape for this group of appreciations and quotations from Joseph Cornell's notes by the poet Charles Simic. I'm in love! But it is only fair to admit that I was a beeg fan of the work of both men before I ever saw this volume. It would be a treasured gift for that quirky, discerning friend.
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23 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Pearson on February 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After reading the reviews, i was eager to receive this, especially as I'm only beginning my journey into the mind of Joseph Cornell. I was disappointed. The book is tiny - there are photos of only eight of Cornell's works and the prose, although nice, really isn't all that enlightening or inspiring, giving me nary a "hmm" factor.

It's a lovely little book for what it is, which isn't much. If like me, you're just discovering Cornell, this is not the place to start. I wish I knew the best place to point you, but I'm looking for that myself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Books on March 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are interested in the flaneur, in art, in how nonfiction in the hands of this great American poet can give us insight not just into the work of Joseph Cornell but into our own lives on the streets of our towns and cities, perceiving everything in this daily collage that has order and no order, and could all be art, could all be moving in the right eyes.
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Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell (New York Review Books Classics)
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