Art Acquisition | Joseph Cornell

Joseph Cornell, Soap Bubble Box

HLK art acquisition of a Joseph Cornell piece, Soap Bubble Set (Eclipsing Binary, Algol with Magnitude Changes), 1960.

Joseph Cornell’s Soap Bubble Boxes are hallmarks of 20th century experimentalism, in their nod to mid-century scientific advances by field-experts and the subsequent global interest. The World’s Fairs contributed heavily to this heightened appreciation for accessing the unknown and discovery through innovation. References to chemistry, astronomy, and other areas of scientific academia are evident in this large portfolio of appartement-style relief works holding various treasures and follies (something Mark Dion may have been inspired by in recent works). The reclamation of object and idea call to Cornell’s artistic and literary influences: Duchamp, Ernst, and Magritte.

Upon consideration of Cornell’s influences, the boxes also hold some level of nostalgia; they may very well evoke a music box, a self-described “shadow box,” a utopia, a Narnia.

Shadow boxes become poetic theatres or settings wherein are metamorphosed the elements of a childhood pastime. The fragile, shimmering globules become the shimmering but more enduring planets—a connotation of moon and tides – the association of water less subtle, as when driftwood pieces make up a proscenium to set off the dazzling white of sea-foam and billowy cloud crystalized in a pipe of fancy -Joseph Cornell (via Sotheby’s)

Source: Sotheby’s