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Subseries 4.3 | A Finding Aid to the Joseph Cornell papers, 1804-1986, bulk 1939-1972 | Digitized Collection

Joseph Cornell papers, 1804-1986, bulk 1939-1972

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4.3: Subject Source Files, 1804-1972

Subseries is comprised of Cornell's files on various subjects, including topics of interest to him, themes, "explorations," art and publishing projects, and exhibitions. Some files are organized according to format, such as clippings, notes and writings, and stamps. Files typically consist of material that Cornell used in creating particular boxes, collages, and other works (design layouts and exhibition announcements, among others), and from which he drew ideas and inspiration for projects. Material typically includes magazine and newspaper clippings, cutouts, notes, writings, book and typed excerpts, stats, prints, postcards, art reproductions, and other printed material.
Subject source files range from slender files containing only clippings and cutouts of a particular subject (such as Butterflies, Food, and Statues) to files of assorted printed material seemingly related to some sort of titled, but not easily identifiable, project (such as "Animals in the News," "Earth Before the Flood" Box, and "La Malaga") to voluminous files relating to a particular topic, which Cornell explored in depth, or to an on-going project, which may or may not have resulted in a finished product (such as "Celestial Theater" and "GC 44"). Some files are more comprehensive than others; some files relate directly, and others only indirectly, to particular projects; and some files are so general and/or incomplete that it is not entirely clear how they relate to Cornell's projects or interests.
Certain subject source files relate to Cornell's "explorations" on such diverse topics as astronomy, ballet, literature, and music. Ones on astronomy include "Cassiopeia" (sparked by his musings on the constellation and his preoccupation with a young waitress) and "Celestial Theater" (an unfinished project on sky-gazing). Ones on ballet and literature include "Portrait of Ondine (Cerrito)" and the Bibliomania projects, respectively. And ones on music include "The Caliph of Bagdad" (sparked by hearing the opera by Francois-Andrien Boieldieu and leading to the creation of one or more Cockatoo boxes), "Famagouste" (inspired by the opera, "La Pisanella" by Ildebrando Pizzetti), and "Rossiniana" (involving a proposed "feuilleton-project" on the composer, Rossini).
Other subject source files relate to particular "explorations" based on Cornell's personal experiences. Most notable among these is "GC 44," which stemmed from events during the period when he worked at the Garden Centre nursery in Flushing. The extensive "GC 44" files document the core experiences of this "exploration," which included visits to "The Old Farm" (Lawrence Homestead), a dream of "the little dancer," many trips to the "house on the hill" (where Cornell gathered dried grasses which were used in his
Habitat
boxes), and a particular sighting of a delivery truck "with its enseigne of the fish and smoking meats" which inspired "The Floral Still-Life" musings. Also documented are Cornell's overriding concerns to recapture and recreate what was for him "one of the high tides of inspiration" and to share the experience with others. Though he exchanged ideas and shared some of this material with others (
See
letter from Donald Windham to Betty Cornell Benton in Series 10), the project, as he imagined it, was never completed.
Some subject source files relate to particular art projects and stem from Cornell's work researching, planning, and/or creating certain box constructions, box series, and collages. While by no means comprehensive or complete, files on art projects variously document the origin of certain box series (such as the Aviary and Juan Gris series) and/or stages in the development of particular boxes and collages (such as the "Nostalgia of the Sea" box, and the Rabbit and "Tina" collages). Files on art projects also suggest the way in which Cornell's preoccupations influenced his art work, as in the box, "The Bird with the Shoe-Button Eyes," which stemmed from his preoccupations with literature in general and with the French author, Gerard de Nerval, in particular and which he seems to have conceived as a means to bring the rather obscure author to the attention of a wider audience.
Certain subject source files relate to particular publishing projects and stem from Cornell's work designing covers and illustrations, writing articles, and planning entire issues for various commercial and avant-garde periodicals (
See
Subseries 4.1 for his work on self-publications). Notable publishing projects documented, in part, here include "The Crystal Cage [portrait of Berenice]," and various pieces for
Dance Index
, including ones on "blackface ballerinas," children and ballet, and dancing animals, as well as the thematic issue, "Clowns, Elephants, and Ballerinas" (1946).
Subject source files on exhibitions stem primarily from Cornell's work on catalogues for the "Objects by Joseph Cornell" exhibition at the Copley Gallery (September 1948), the "Night Voyage" exhibition at the Egan Gallery (February 10-March 28, 1953), and the "Romantic Museum at the Hugo Gallery: Portraits of Women" exhibition (December 1946), and they document, to a certain extent, his involvement in the presentation, exhibition, and sale of his art work.
It is unlikely that Cornell maintained these files in alphabetical order. Betty Cornell Benton's correspondence indicates that she organized some of his papers (
See
Series 10), so it seems likely that this order was imposed by her. At this point, it is difficult to surmise what, if any, Cornell's original organization may have been. Therefore, files have been left in alphabetical order.
DescriptionContainer
"1956 Scrapbook Miscellany,", 1944-1956
(See Box 27)
11
42
"A" [Allegra Kent] File, 1969, undated
11
43
Advertisements, Turn-of-the-Century, 1887-1902, undated
11
44
Album Pages, undated
11
45
"Allegory of Faith" (painting by Giovanni Battista da Bologna), 1969, undated
11
46
Ancient Art and Culture, undated
(2 folders)
11
47-48
Animal Engravings, undated
11
49
Animals, 1938-1960, undated
(3 folders)
11
50-52
"Animals in the News,", 1941-1954, undated
11
53
"Anna Dream" and "Andover Dream,", 1937-1972, undated
(3 folders)
Includes some of Cornell's dream writings and other material that may or may not relate to dreams.
12
1-3
Antiques, 1954-1967, n.d
(3 folders)
12
4-6
"April 30, 1961,", 1961, undated
12
7
Architectural Drawings (German Book), 1819
(See Box 27)
12
8
Architecture, undated
12
9
Art Book, 1953
(see Box 27)
12
10
Art Clippings, 1953-1970, undated
(2 folders)
12
11-12
Art Collage, 1935-1964, undated
(10 folders)
12
13-22
Astronomy, 1953-1958, undated
12
23
Aviary, 1946-1949, undated
12
24
Ballet - Modern, Miscellaneous, 1909-1947, undated
12
25
Ballet - Modern, Photographs, 1944-1945, undated
12
26
Ballet - Romantic, Miscellaneous, 1855-1948, undated
(2 folders)
12
27-28
Ballet - Romantic, Stats, undated
12
29
Bibliomania - 19th-century, 1804-1944, undated
(3 folders)
12
30-32
Bibliomania - 20th-century, 1839-1961, undated
(2 folders)
12
33-34
"The Bird with the Shoe-Button Eyes (for Gerard de Nerval),", 1932-1947, undated
12
35
Birds, 1958-1962, undated
(2 folders; see also Box 27)
12
36-37
"Bouteille" (Bottle) - "Pat Lewis,", 1959-1965, undated
12
38
Box Construction (part), undated
(See OV 29)
12
39
Box Construction Material, 1884-1972, undated
(3 folders)
12
40-42
Box Construction Material, 1884-1972, undated
(3 folders)
13
1-3
"Brocehet Caroline de Gunderode" (Bracelet of Caroline von Gunderode), 1954-1965, undated
(2 folders)
13
4-5
"The Bronze Statue,", circa 1963
13
6
Business Cards and Contact Information, undated
13
7
Butterflies, 1958-1962, undated
13
8
"The Caliph of Bagdad,", 1952-1967, undated
(3 folders)
13
9-11
Cameos, undated
13
12
"Cassiopeia,", 1958-1966, undated
(6 folders)
13
13-18
Cat Box, 1961-1963, undated
13
19
"Celestial Theater,", 1871, 1944-1958, undated
(5 folders)
13
20-24
Charity Seals, undated
13
25
"Chat Emaillere" (Enamel Cat), 1964, undated
13
26
Children Collage, 1949-1963, undated
(2 folders)
13
27-28
Children Cutouts, undated
13
29
Children's Correspondence, Class 5 St., Downtown Community School, 1971
(2 folders)
13
30-31
Children's Correspondence, Class 4-332, undated
13
32
Children's Correspondence, Public School 40, [1972]
(2 folders)
13
33-34
Children's Correspondence, Guest Book, 1972
13
35
Children's Illustrations, undated
13
36
Clippings, 1945-1971, n.d
(6 folders)
13
37-42
Clippings, 1945-1971, n.d
(1 folder)
14
1
Clorinda, 1960, undated
14
2
Clouds, undated
14
3
"Coffee Pot" and Memorabilia, 1966, undated
14
4
"Coffee Pot Schrafft's,", 1971, undated
14
5
Collage Material, 1968, undated
14
6
Container (partial box with lid), undated
(See Box 27)
14
7
Correspondence (
See also
Series 2), 1943-1972, undated
14
8
"Corridor Store Front,", undated
14
9
Crafts and Industries, 1876-1945, undated
(4 folders)
14
10-13
"Crocus Castle,", 1962-1969, undated
14
14
Dance Publications, 1929-1948
(2 folders)
14
15-16
"Deer Nymph" (Dame Laura Knight), 1963-1970, undated
14
17
Doodlings, 1961-1972, undated
14
18
Drapery, undated
(2 folders)
14
19-20
Dutch and Flemish Art, 1924-1941, undated
(2 folders)
14
21-22
Early Boxes, 1955-1958, undated
(3 folders)
14
23-25
"Earth Before the Flood" Box, undated
14
26
Envelope Fragments, 1963, undated
14
27
Excerpts (from the writings of others), 1950-1956, undated
14
28
Exhibition, "Medici Penny Arcade Machine" ("Objects by Joseph Cornell"), 1948, undated
14
29
Exhibition, "Night Voyage,", 1952-1953, undated
14
30
Exhibition, "Romantic Museum at the Hugo Gallery: Portraits of Women,", 1949-1954, undated
(2 folders)
14
31-32
Fairies, 1963-1965
14
33
"Falling Star,", 1964-1969, undated
14
34
"Famagouste,", 1972, undated
14
35
Fashion, circa 1960s
14
36
"Fee aux Lapins,", 1958-1959, undated
(2 folders)
14
37-38
Figureheads, undated
14
39
Film Clippings, 1906-1946, undated
14
40
Film Printed Material, 1944-1968, undated
14
41
Films, 1957-1970, undated
14
42
Flair
Magazine, 1950
14
43
Food, 1963, undated
14
44
"GC 44," Writings and Notes, 1944-1961, undated
(9 folders)
14
45-53
"GC 44," Writings and Notes, 1944-1961, undated
(4 folders)
15
1-4
"GC 44," Scrapbook Pages, 1944-1949, undated
15
5
"GC 44," Clippings, 1940-1959, undated
(15 folders)
15
6-20
Gitta, 1961-1962
15
21
Goya, 1928, undated
15
22
"The Grasshopper,", 1970
15
23
Greeting Cards, 1968-1972
15
24
Gum Collage, undated
15
25
Hemingway, 1964
15
26
Heraldry, undated
15
27
History, 1953, undated
15
28
"Hotel Chariot d'Or,", 1963, undated
15
29
Hummingbirds, 1953, undated
15
30
Ink Blot Drawings, 1969-1971, undated
(2 folders)
15
31-32
Insects, 1958-1966, undated
15
33
Jewelry - 19th-century, 1885-1895, undated
15
34
Jewelry - 20th-century, 1963-1965, undated
15
35
Juan Gris (Boxes), 1950-1968, undated
(9 folders)
15
36-44
Kress Collection (National Gallery of Art), 1952-1963, undated
15
45
Lala, undated
15
46
Laundresses Collage, 1965, undated
15
47
Lilliputian Opera, 1906, undated
15
48
Literature, 1948-1954, undated
15
49
"La Malaga,", undated
15
50
Maps, 1956, undated
15
51
Marine Life, 1960-1963, undated
15
52
Match Box Project, undated
15
53
Mathematics, 1958-1970, undated
(1 folder)
15
54
Mathematics, 1958-1970, undated
(1 folder)
16
1
Medici Prince, undated
16
2
"Morning," "Noon," "Evening," and "Night,", undated
16
3
Mozart, 1951-1956, undated
16
4
Museum Bottles Material, 1942-1954, undated
16
5
Music, 1953, undated
(2 folders)
16
6-7
Music, Italian Songbooks, 1962
16
8
Music, Liner Notes, 1961
(see Box 27)
16
9
Music, Opera Librettos, circa 1920s
16
10
New York, circa 1960s
16
11
Newspaper Clippings, 1956-1967, undated
16
12
"Nostalgia of the Sea,", 1943-1955, undated
(3 folders)
16
13-15
Notes and Writings, 1941-1972, undated
(11 folders)
16
16-26
Notes on Making Boxes, 1957-1962, undated
(2 folders)
16
27-28
Nudes, 1964, undated
16
29
"Offering" and Other Dream Writings, 1960-1964, undated
16
30
Office Supplies and Furniture, undated
16
31
Old Masters (art reproductions), undated
16
32
Old Silks, undated
16
33
Ostend, undated
16
34
Paperweights, 1965
16
35
Parrot Box with Spools, undated
16
36
"The Peppermint Stick Monkey" (Homage to the Romantic Ballet), 1945, undated
16
37
Photographs, Miscellaneous (
See also
Series 6), 1964-1969, undated
16
38
Photographs, Reproduction of "La Chanteuse Verte" by Edgar Degas, 1964-1969, undated
16
39
Photography, 1953-1965, undated
16
40
Picasso, 1971
16
41
Pitt Magazine, 1967-1969
16
42
Planets, undated
16
43
Poetry and Poets, 1949-1956, undated
16
44
Poles, undated
16
45
"Portrait of Ondine (Fanny Cerrito)" (
See also
Subseries 4.2), 1952-1961, undated
(2 folders)
16
46-47
"Portrait of Ondine (Fanny Cerrito)," Reproduction of Portrait by Josef Kriehuber, undated
16
48
"La Poupee,", 1958-1963, undated
16
49
Printed Material and Notes, Miscellaneous, 1848, 1944-1972, undated
(15 folders)
17
1-15
Privacy, 1957
17
16
Publishing Project, "Americana,", 1872-1952, undated
(3 folders)
17
17-19
Publishing Project, "Clowns, Elephants, and Ballerinas,", 1812-circa 1859, 1946, undated
(See Box 28)
17
20
Publishing Project, "The Crystal Cage [portrait of Berenice]" (
See also
Towers), 1942-1945, undated
(2 folders)
17
21-22
Publishing Projects,
Dance Index
, 1946, undated
17
23
Publishing Project, "Women Painters,", 1855, 1948-1953, undated
17
24
Publishing Project, "Women Painters," Subjects, 1851, 1949-1961, undated
(2 folders)
17
25-26
Rabbit Collage, 1954-1963, undated
17
27
Mlle. Raisin, 1957, undated
17
28
Rossiniana, 1867-1954, undated
(2 folders)
17
29-30
Science, 1953-1967, undated
(2 folders)
17
31-32
Script, "The Holy Ghost" by Allan Codd, 1970
(not scanned)
17
33
Sewing, 1970, undated
18
1
"The Stag,", 1961-1966, undated
18
2
Stamps, 1863-1871, 1952-1965, undated
18
3
Stats (photostats), undated
(2 folders)
18
4-5
Statues, 1942-1964, undated
(2 folders)
18
6-7
Sunsets, 1959-1968, undated
(2 folders)
18
8-9
"Tina" Collage, 1965, undated
18
10
Towers ("The Crystal Cage [portrait of Berenice]"), undated
18
11
Uccello, undated
18
12
Van Eyck Altarpiece, 1949
18
13
Varia, 1947-1964, undated
(2 folders)
18
14-15
"War Plant 1943,", 1943, undated
(3 folders)
18
16-18
"Westhampton 1952-1953,", 1953-1969, undated
18
19
Oversized, "1956 Scrapbook Miscellany,", 1944-1956, undated
(See Box 11, F42)
27 (sol)
Oversized, Architectural Drawings (German Book), 1819
(See Box 12, F8)
27 (sol)
Oversized, Art Book, 1953
(see Box 12, F10)
27 (sol)
Oversized, Birds (engraving), undated
(See Box 12, F36-37)
27 (sol)
Oversized, Container (partial box with lid), undated
(See Box 14, F7)
27 (sol)
Oversized, Music, Liner Notes, 1961, undated
(see Box 16, F9)
27 (sol)
Oversized, Publishing Project, "Clowns, Elephants, and Ballerinas,", 1812-circa 1859, 1946, undated
(3 folders; see Box 12, F20)
28 (sol)
Oversized, Box Construction (part), undated
(See Box 12, F39)
OV 29

Make a Request

  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.