Saturday, December 22, 2007

Little Boxes, Little Boxes

Okay.  I saw the Joseph Cornell: Navigating the Imagination retrospective at SFMOMA yesterday.  I am sorry to say that I am somewhat disappointed. I have always found Cornell's work fascinating and magical.  I still do. Unfortunately his box pieces were all encased in plexiglass boxes, two or more to a box.  Few were 360 degree accessible --and doesn't it seem necessary to view three dimensional art all the way around. Duh.  Nothing like looking through a box to see a box. So I wasn't disappointed with the show, just the way it was exhibited. How bout letting us SEE the art. Okay, okay, I know the work is fragile, but everything is already encased in a box.

On the flip side, it was a comprehensive survey of his work and had artifacts from his studio. Seeing the bits and pieces of detritus and their storage boxes gives the viewer a sense of Cornell's process. It's a bit like looking through his sketchbook and sifting through an encyclopedic collection of little junk that aspires to be art.

Cornell's work is poetic, playful, creative, and mystical.  Although the exhibition sanitizes, qualifies, and catalogues the work, it remains intriguing and enigmatic.

Here's the link to SFMOMA's Cornell page:

Link to Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts (Co-Orinators of the exhibition with the Smithsonian):


By the way...Here's a little-known fact: The song Little Boxes written by Malvina Reynolds, in 1962- You know...there are green ones and there are yellow ones, etc.  was written about Daly City. Wanna see some of those "box" houses? Look at paintings by artist Eileen David. Actually, many of her little boxes are in San Francisco, although Eileen has done paintings of Daly City (unfortunately not as romantic as the city by the bay). 


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