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Oral history interview with Elizabeth Cornell Benton, 1976 April 21

Benton, Elizabeth Cornell, 1905-


Collection Information

Size: 83 Pages, Transcript

Format: Originally recorded on 2 sound tape reels. Reformatted in 2010 as 3 digital wav files. Duration is 3 hr., 10 min.

Summary: An interview of Elizabeth Cornell Benton conducted 1976 April 21, by Paul Cummings, for the Archives of American Art.
Interview concerns her brother, Joseph Cornell. Benton speaks of Cornell's education; his relationship with his family, especially with his brother, Robert; his interests in astronomy, music, movies, surrealism, and other subjects; his business dealings; his variations on themes in his collages and boxes; his "zany" sense of humor and other aspects of his personality; his use of toxic materials in his art; his health; his places of employment; his sources of inspiration; his diary and other writings; his attraction to youth; and his assistants. Benton also describes art classes she took from Edward Hopper and her collages.

Biographical/Historical Note

Elizabeth Cornell Benton (1905- ) was the sister of the artist Joseph Cornell.


This interview is part of the Archives' Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.

Language Note

English .


Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.

How to Use This Collection

The transcript and recording are open for research. Contact Reference Services for more information.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Elizabeth Cornell Benton, 1976 April 21. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.