Cornell created a fascinating body of "correspondence art," most elaborately realized between 1938-1942, in which he sent collaged and painted letters to cultural luminaries. Although a lifelong prodigious letter writer, Cornell's fully realized letters and collages are relatively rare.
Untitled, 1942, was sent to the noted composer Alec Wilder. Cornell was moved to correspond with Wilder after seeing a performance of his musical, Juke Box. After praising the composer, Cornell invited him to view his work at the Julien Levy Gallery as well as at his home where he would show Wilder "various documents, records, and early motion pictures," referring to Cornell's enormous collection of music/movie ephemera. Appropriately, Untitled includes a number of costumed figures in theatrical poses, as well as the birds that were a signature image of Cornell's. He also covered the sheet in multi-colored, decorative bursts that alternately suggest snow and sunlight.
Cornell's "correspondence art" presages the New York Correspondence School of Ray Johnson, another idiosyncratic artist. Untitled is both an excellent example of Cornell's collages and an insightful glimpse into the artist's personal world.