Joseph Cornell was unusual. He created, most famously, shadow boxes. He also made collages, film and Rorschach test-like splotches. Was he a Surrealist? Was he even an artist?
How are these similar to and different from a collage you may have made?
What does it look like these are made out of?
What shapes, objects, or themes do you see repeated in Cornell’s artwork?
Do you think the objects within one box go together? Why or why not?
How is Cornell’s art like theater or dreams?
What do you like about Cornell’s art? What do you dislike?
Cornell primarily created his art from found objects. Do you think he can be called and artist? Do you think he can claim authorship?
Cornell said he was not a Surrealist. What elements of his art look surrealistic? Which elements do not?
Cornell often made boxes about a specific person or as a gift. How does that impact his art? How does this make his art similar to or different from other artists?
Have you seen contemporary art or media that reminds you of Cornell’s work?
All images courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum
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