Cornell, Joseph, American artist, 1903–72, b. Nyack, N.Y. Cornell is best known for his surrealist-flavored shadow boxes. These are relatively small constructions, within glass-fronted shallow boxes or frames, made of a wide variety of found objects, maps, photographs, engravings, and other materials. The Cornell boxes possess a unique visual magic, and their selection and arrangement are extraordinarily evocative and filled with personal symbolism. Hôtel du Nord (c.1953; Whitney Mus., New York City) is a representative work.
See biography by D. Solomon (1997); D. Ashton and J. Ashbery, ed., A Joseph Cornell Album (1974, repr. 2002); A. Leppanen-Guerra and D. Tashjian, ed., Joseph Cornell's Manual of Marvels (2012); studies by D. Waldman (2002), I. Schafffner (2003), and L. R. Hartigan (2007).