Surveying 80 of Cornell’s pieces, the artist’s work is portrayed in four main themes including ‘Play and Experiment,’ ‘Collecting and Classification,’ ‘Observation and Exploration’ and ‘Longing and Reverie.’ The selection also includes some of Cornell’s major works like his Soap Bubble Sets, Medici Slot Machines and his Aviaries.
The last major solo exhibition of the artist held in Europe took place nearly 35 years ago. Before then, they were mostly held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Cornell personally never left America and rarely even New York City. However through his art and creations, Cornell was able to travel the world in a much more spiritual and abstract method. His display shows the sense of ‘Wanderlust’ he held in his mind and soul.
More than anything Cornell seemed to act as a ‘collector’ as he amassed an archive of items that he created and constructed into meaningful representations of time, longing and travel, to name a few. Many of the works revealed his own cultural interests in ballet, opera, cinema and theater as well as poetry, astronomy and ornithology.
Many of the works selected specifically for the exhibition show the artist’s perception of Europe as well, including his imagery of the Belle Époque and the Italian Renaissance. Some of his signature pieces shown in these interests were his ‘shadow boxes,’ through which he created miniature worlds as well as producing collages and film.
The exhibition pays tribute to the forces of time, imagination and the ability to see art in even the most mundane of objects. A wonderful and innovative collection that is a must see for all art lovers.
By Biya Haq