Inside the show: Joseph Cornell

A video tour with the exhibition's curators

Published 30 July 2015

Take a look inside the exhibition ‘Joseph Cornell: Wanderlust’ in these short video clips with our curators.

  • Our exhibition Joseph Cornell: Wanderlust brings together 80 works by one of the most original artists of the 20th century. In these short videos, the exhibition’s curators discuss some of the key works in the show, and explain what they reveal about Cornell’s approach to his work and his position within the wider art world.

  • Opening the exhibiton: Palace

    Curator Sarah Lea introduces the first work in the exhibition and explains why she chose it.


    Image credit: Joseph Cornell, ‘Palace’, 1943. Box construction. 26.7 x 50.5 x 13 cm. The Menil Collection, Houston. Formerly in the collection of Christophe de Menil.

    © The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation/VAGA, NY/DACS, London 2015.

  • Cornell and the art world: three works in focus

    Curator Jasper Sharp introduces three works that demonstrate Cornell’s close ties with – and influence on – the artistic community, from the 1930s to the present day.


    Image credits:

    ‘Pharmacy’, 1943. Box construction, 38.7 x 30.5 x 7.9 cm. Collection Paul Schärer.

    ‘Habitat Group for a Shooting Gallery’, 1943. Box construction. 39.4 x 28.3 x 10.8 cm. Purchased with funds from the Coffin Fine Arts Trust; Nathan Emory Coffin Collection of the Des Moines Art Center, 1975.27.

    ‘Untitled (Owl Habitat)’, Mid-to late 1940s. Box construction, 25.7 x 14 x 9.4cm. Collection Jasper Johns.

    All images © The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation/VAGA, NY/DACS, London 2015.

  • The Medici series

    The exhibition brings together a number of works from Cornell’s Medici series. Curator Sarah Lea introduces these beguiling shadow boxes, which combine Renaissance portraiture with the cabinetry of the Coney Island slot machines of Cornell’s youth.

    Image credits:

    ‘Untitled (Medici Princess)’ c.1948. Box construction, 44.8 x 28.3 x 11.1 cm Private collection, New York.

    ‘Untitled (Pinturicchio Boy)’, 1942-52. Box construction, 35.4 x 28.4 x 9.8 cm. Glenstone.

    ‘Untitled (Medici Boy)’, c.1953. Box construction, 46.4 x 28.9 x 13.9 cm. Collection of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Museum purchase, The Benjamin J. Tillar Memorial Trust.

    All images © The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation/VAGA, NY/DACS, London 2015.

  • Letter to Dorothea Tanning

    Cornell was an avid correspondent. Here, Jasper Sharp introduces one of his beautifully embellished letters to the artist Dorothea Tanning.


    Image credit: Letter with collage embellishments, from Cornell to Dorothea Tanning, 1947. Typewritten letter with collage on paper, 39.1 x 22.8cm. The Estate of Dorothea Tanning, New York.

    © The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation/VAGA, NY/DACS, London 2015.

  • Joseph Cornell: Wanderlust is in The Sackler Wing at the RA from 4 July – 27 September.

    Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

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