Sunday, 11 December 2011

Joseph Cornell's work

Joseph Cornell is another of the artists from the unit 3 briefing who I find particularly interesting because there is a sense of distress and vintage about his work. You wouldn't want to touch it in fear you would damage it because his pieces seem to have some strange value about them.

Image Detail

Yet if we were to know that the elements that build up his pieces are found or collected unwanted bits and bobs we may well question the value of them. That is something really interesting about Cornell's work though, we do know that these parts are collected up but there is still the sense of importance and value. Maybe it is the fact that it does in a way document Cornell's own journeys and in a way the journey of the elements after they were disowned.
Image Detail
Cornell's work is rather ambiguous because a viewer could have many an interpretation of it. Yes there is the idea of a journey but it is up to us to make up the narrative for this journey. You could argue that the journeys are to do with Cornell's love for Victorian visual culture as this is where most of the objects are from but this is just one interpretation of many.'Cornell's work can be easily framed in biographical terms. One need not dig too deeply for psychoanalytic readings, for the Freudian tropes (an absent father, an idyllic childhood, a sudden fall from grace, familial obligations, a fraught relationship with his mother) present themselves readily.' (Houng, 2007) His work is like a story of someone's life however, it also isn't at the same time. Cornell didn't like the idea of biographical sense within art because it strips the mystery. He wanted the viewer to try to dig deeper into his work, to hunt for the meaning inside it.
His work feels uncanny because there are these objects we are familiar with but they are part of something unfamiliar, something whose meaning is not clear to us, a meaning you could relate to Bernstein's restricted code because other than Cornell himself his work is obscure.  'One experiences the uncanny sensation of wandering through another man's mind.' (Houng, 2007) It is also uncanny because we feel like we are intruding on Cornell's mind, it is as if we have unscrewed the top of his head to see how his mind works. These collages simulate his mind at work and there is something unusually eerie about it.

Joseph Cornell's work also reminds me of artist Kurt Schwitter's work because he too creates collages of objects mainly things viewed as rubbish like train ticket stubs and again the meanings of his work are obscure.


American crafter Tim Holtz does something similar to both artists in that he gathers up objects and distresses them up to change meanings of them, he also uses them alongside photographs to add new meaning to the photographs. Yet this meaning is still sometimes ambiguous.

Image Detail 
Patchwork Creativeblocks

Here is some work I did for my A Level exam looking at Joseph Cornell in the theme of cycles which to me was his cycle of journey.

No comments: