Untitled (Solar Set) is an evocative Cornell box, full of the intrigue and visual conundrums that mark his best work. Although Cornell never illustrates a story, virtually all of the "clues" in Untitled (Solar Set) point to a voyage at sea. Even the palette suggests water: the exterior of the box has been stained a rich, dark blue/green, echoed in the blue sand which floats loosely and settles like puddles in the box. The seafaring theme continues in the objects, including the turtle on the children's block and the pipe which has a low relief image of a sailboat; the pipe itself is tied to a carved wood cube like a ship to a dock. Finally, in a sly touch that brings to mind Max Ernst's frottages, the artist has created, intentionally or not, a fluctuating blue wave along the bottom edge of the reverse, over which he has signed his name.
Recycling is an important theme in Cornell's work and indeed, most of the objects in his works were found by the artist, rather than created. A voracious collector of ephemera, Cornell used similar objects in many works, such as the pipe and balancing bars, whose meaning would change with each work. In the present lot, the glass appears to float, much like a boat along the water, directly underneath a celestial body that is essential to navigation. The presence of the children's block and the snippet of folded paper which bears the name "Heloise" suggests that the main protagonist in this journey is a child.