Several of Cornell’s later films were completed posthumously by his disciple and fellow filmmaker Larry Jordan. Cornell mostly moved away from the collage or found-footage film in his later years, creating lyrical cinema and collaborating with other artists — most notably, perhaps, with the young Stan Brakhage, with whom he had created Gnir Rednow (1955), a film composed of the out takes from Brakhage’s The Wonder Ring (1955), which Cornell had commissioned as a document of New York City’s Third Avenue El before it was torn down in sections. Gnir Rednow was intended to be projected from either tail-end of the film, with the projector always running forward, and underscores Cornell and Brakhage’s unique understanding of cinema as a material document rather than an ephemeral tool of representation. —zine.artcat.com
Joseph Cornell was born December 24, 1903, in Nyack, New York. From 1917 to 1921, he attended Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. He was an avid collector of memorabilia and, while working as a woolen-goods salesman in New York until 1931, developed his interests in ballet, literature, and opera. He lived with his mother and brother, Robert, at their home in the Flushing section of Queens.
In the early 1930s, Cornell met Surrealist writers and artists at the Julien Levy Gallery, New York, and saw Max Ernst’s collage-novel La Femme 100 têtes. Cornell’s early constructions of found objects were first shown in the group exhibition Surréalisme at Levy’s gallery in 1932. From 1934 to 1940, Cornell supported himself by working as a textile designer at the Traphagen studio in New York. During these years, he became familiar with Marcel Duchamp’s readymades and Kurt Schwitters’s box constructions. Cornell was included in the 1936 exhibition Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism at the… read more