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JOSEPH CORNELL (1903-1972)
JOSEPH CORNELL (1903-1972)
JOSEPH CORNELL (1903-1972)
JOSEPH CORNELL (1903-1972)
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From time to time, Christie's may offer a lot whic… Read more
JOSEPH CORNELL (1903-1972)

L'Humeur Vagabonde #1

JOSEPH CORNELL (1903-1972)
L'Humeur Vagabonde #1
signed, titled and dated 'L'Humeur Vagabonde Joseph Cornell 1955' (on the reverse)
wood box construction—paint, glass, wood, mirror, driftwood, porcelain, ribbon, printed paper, rubber ball and tin
14 ¼ x 10 5/8 x 2 3/8 in. (36.2 x 27 x 6 cm.)
Executed in 1955.
Estate of the artist
Pace Gallery, New York
Barbara and Morton Mandel, Palm Beach, 1987
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Special notice

From time to time, Christie's may offer a lot which it owns in whole or in part. This is such a lot.

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Rachael White Young
Rachael White Young Associate Vice President, Specialist, Co-Head of Day Sale

Lot Essay

Joseph Cornell's assemblages act not only as a window into the very personal and enchanting world of an idiosyncratic artist, but they also allow the viewer to retreat into a world of childhood that exists only in our imaginations. Each of the carefully selected objects that Cornell has assembled in his tableaux has a specific resonance for the artist and has been brought together to create a world rich in symbolism and imagination. Using ready-made and found materials, Cornell was familiar and very much inspired by the pioneering Post-War Dada and Surrealist artists. Being an artworld outcast, however, Cornell never strictly followed the rules of either art movements, developing his own unique and deeply personal practice.
L'Humeur Vagabonde, executed in 1955, is a sublime example of artist’s quintessential assemblage style. The wooden shadow box appears like an intimate and personal cabinet of curiosities. Behind the glass wall, we see four rows of white shelves, creating little cells and compartments for the found objects Cornell had placed inside. When we peak inside the box, we can see an array of seemingly unrelated objects: a seashell, a broken glass bottleneck, a rubber ball and a little newspaper-wrapped package. All of the items have been carefully arranged and tucked away inside their little designated spaces, a glimpse into the many moving parts of Cornell’s creative practice.
This collection of small, discreet items brings to mind a child-like activity of collecting things that virtually have no value, but for a child, carry an emotional and imagined significance, turning the random collection of items into treasures. Cornell’s boxes speak and embody that impulse: amassing and collecting seemingly disconnected items and memories, holding onto the organic feeling of nostalgia that these items provoke. L'Humeur Vagabonde evokes Cornell’s solitary yet whimsical experiences, imbuing each of the items within the box with special a significance only truly known by the artist.

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