From Publishers Weekly
The title of this extensive survey of Joseph Cornell's work, which ranges from his early collages to his famous "boxes," is drawn from Cornell's own designation for a concept of time indicating the eternal within the everyday. This idea very much informs the attitude of the various contributors to the volume-which comes with a DVD-ROM (not seen by PW) and is published to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Cornell's birth-who concentrate more on the mystical and emotional aspects of Cornell's work, as opposed to the conceptual or technical. While this inevitably leads to a preoccupation with Cornell's religious and sexual preferences, it also lends a charming accessibility and warmth to the text. The contributors do not hesitate to infuse their comments on individual pieces with their own personal experience with the work, which should particularly help neophytes of Cornell's work understand his appeal to such a broad spectrum of viewers. On Cornell's "Untitled [`Dovecote' American Gothic]," Hartigan writes, "I placed this box by my favorite chair, and over the years came to experience a serene sense of comfort and companionship embodied in the simple whitewashed habitation." More than 200 color illustrations of Cornell's work (along with 30 b&w) are placed against black backgrounds and categorized into topics meant to reflect Cornell's own fascinations, such as "Chests and Cabinets," "Habitats," "Aviaries" and "Celestial Navigation Variants." While the darkness of the backgrounds conveys to a certain extent the mysteriousness of Cornell's work, it also obscures some of the more shadowed pieces, and the categories, occasionally only three or four pages long, can seem arbitrary and exclusionary. However, the sheer sumptuousness of the reproductions and the personal enthusiasm of the authors, along with Cornell's own undeniable mystique, does much to overcome this, making the volume a fine introduction to an often misunderstood artist.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
*Starred Review* The centennial of the birth of Joseph Cornell, one of the most original and continually revelatory artists of all time, is the occasion for publication of the most exciting monograph devoted to his magical boxes and poetic collages yet created, a sumptuous volume accompanied by a state-of-the-art DVD-ROM. Crisp color reproductions of Cornell's work, suitably set against black backgrounds, offer a wealth of gorgeously detailed close-ups, and the unusually eloquent commentary reveals the aesthetic, spiritual, and intellectual intricacy inherent in Cornell's unique creations. In elucidating the self-taught artist's passion for the acquisition of myriad found objects and images and his penchant for classifying his diverse collection of mass-produced treasures, curator and Cornell expert Hartigan highlights Cornell's fascination with science, an often overlooked facet of his marvelously inclusive oeuvre. Vine, managing editor of Art in America
, writes with great sympathy and knowledge about Cornell's devotion to the Christian Science faith and its profound influence on his art. And art collector Robert Lehrman describes what it's like to live with Cornell's cleverly constructed boxes, observing that his "best works reveal themselves gradually." Indeed, Cornell's chimerical, wistful, cosmic, and witty art incites fresh astonishment with each in-depth look. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved