Joseph Cornell (1903-1972)
PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF PIERO DORAZIO
Joseph Cornell (1903-1972)

Divertisement pour M. le Marquis de la Place

Details
Joseph Cornell (1903-1972)
Divertisement pour M. le Marquis de la Place
signed and titled 'Divertisement pour M. le Marquis de la Place, Joseph Cornell' (on labels affixed to the reverse)
wood box construction--glass, wood, newsprint, printed paper collage, nails, paint and metal
6 1/8 x 10 1/8 x 3 in. (15.6 x 25.7 x 7.6 cm.)
Executed circa 1967.
Provenance
Piero Dorazio Collection, Todi, acquired directly from the artist
By descent from the above to the present owner

Brought to you by

Joanna Szymkowiak
Joanna Szymkowiak

Lot Essay

An exquisite example of one of Joseph Cornell’s box constructions, Divertisement pour M. le Marquis de la Place encompasses the magical, mythical world of Joseph Cornell. Here, the artist constructs a celestial world populated by mysterious planets both in printed and three-dimensional form. A picture of the solar system—torn from a book or magazine—is attached to the back of the box, while two spherical objects appear to float in space; one suspended from the roof of the box and one that moves around the floor. The astronomical theme continues with the work's title which, when translated from the original French reads “Entertainment for Monsieur le Marquis de la Place.” Pierre-Simon, marquis de Laplace (1749-1827) was an influential French scholar whose work was important to the development of mathematics, statistics, physics, and astronomy.
Divertisement pour M. le Marquis de la Place comes with the distinguished provenance of having been in the collection of the Italian artist Piero Dorazio ever since it was acquired directly from the artist. Born in Rome in 1927, Dorazio studied humanities and then architecture for four years. Then in 1945 he took part in activities organized by the Arte Sociale group and in 1947, together with Carla Accardi, Ugo Attardi, Pietro Consagra, Mino Guerrini, Achille Perilli, Antonio Sanfilippo and Giulio Turcato, he founded the Forma group. Dorazio and Cornell had known each other ever since the pair were both represented by the influential Stable Gallery in New York. Dorazio would play an important role in Cornell’s career as he was instrumental in introducing the artist to one of his most important patrons, Edwin A. Bergman. The Chicago businessman was the kind of supporter that any artist would dream of, yet despite his numerous attempts to arrange a meeting with Cornell, nothing materialized. Finally he enlisted the help of Dorazio, who agreed to have Bergman visit him in Rome to collect a package for Cornell and hand deliver it him at his Utopia Parkway home in New York. The theory was that the excitement of getting a package from Europe would prove too great for Cornell to resist and Bergman could finally get to meet the artist in person. Thus, with Dorazio’s help, began one of the most important relationships of Cornell’s career as Bergman would go build one of the largest collections of the artist’s work.
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