Published by Royal Academy Publications. Text by Lynda Hartigan, Sarah Lea, Jasper Sharp.
Joseph Cornell (1903–1972) was one of the 20th century’s leading exponents of collage and assemblage. A connoisseur of an astonishing array of subjects, Cornell’s captivation with bygone imagery encompassed astronomical charts and geographical maps, Italian and Spanish Old Master paintings, historical ballet, early film, literature, poetry and ornithology. Most iconic among his works are his box constructions—microcosmic curiosity cabinets—filled with once-precious fragments that he collected in thrift shops in his native New York. Joseph Cornell: Wanderlust is a landmark publication examining this remarkable work. It brings together some of Cornell’s most compelling assemblages and box constructions (including Medici slot machines, soap-bubble sets and animal habitats). The contributors raise questions about Cornell’s artistic processes while drawing parallels with historical modes of inquiry such as connoisseurship, exploration and classification.