- Hardcover: 392 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press; 1 edition (November 15, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300111622
- ISBN-13: 978-0300111620
- Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 1.5 x 11.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #690,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Joseph Cornell: Navigating the Imagination 1st Edition
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This dense book presents photos of the works in that tour, along with extensive commentary and biographical notes. The collection's boxes appear, of course, along with Cornell's work in two other categories: collage, and works that I'll call "albums." I admit that collage, even when exceptionally well done, generally doesn't move me. Collage elements enhance his boxes but do not, to my taste, stand well on their own. I found the albums tantalizing, though. Each one collected "natural" images from the popular media, collage, and Cornell's surrealist writings, all loose, in some kind of storage case. They were meant to create a unique experience for each viewer, changing in sequence, organization, and juxtaposition each time the pages' order changed. Displays under glass preserved the artworks, but blocked the museum-goer from experiencing the albums as they were meant to be experienced. I envy the preparators and curators who got the direct experience of this art in preparing the display.
Unfortunately, this book's photographic representation of the albums also blocks the experience that Cornell intended - but I'd rather have the fixed depiction than none at all. The fixed and 2D representation of the dynamic and 3D boxes gives the same sense: a pale shadow of the boxes' magical presence. This book does as well as can be hoped, but no book can replicate the subtle optics and shifting perspectives of the original objects.
I've only sampled this book's profuse text. If you can't see the originals, the commentary helps bring them to life. Notes on Cornell's career, times, and friendships also cast informative light on the works and how they arose. The gorgeous photos are so distracting, though, that I keep wandering away from the text. If you've seen the show, this will remind you of what you saw (there was so much), and deepen your appreciation of it. If you haven't, it will make you wish you did.