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Neutral Bay, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 1920 – Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 2000

  • Europe 1950-55

not titled [Donkeys near archway]. (1950-55)
Collection Title: Sketchbook of scenes, buildings, interiors, figures and animals in Italy and Greece
Page: Leaf 61 recto.
Materials & Technique: drawings, sketchbooks, graphite; paper drawing in black pencil Support: paper

Dimensions: sheet 18.0 h x 22.8 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1977
Accession No: NGA
  • Purchased by the Australian National Gallery, from the artist, Sydney, March 1977. This purchase included 11 sketchbooks.

Joseph Cornell was born on 24 December 1903 in Nyack, New York. From 1921 until 1931 he worked as a textile salesman in New York City while independently pursuing his interest in art through libraries and museums. In 1929 the family moved to Utopia Parkway in Flushing, Queens, where Cornell was to live for the rest of his life. He participated in an exhibition of Surrealist art at the Julien Levy Gallery, New York, in 1932, and later in the same year held his first solo exhibition there. Also at the Levy Gallery, in 1936, he showed is film Rose Hobart, made by collaging together pieces from an early Hollywood movie. Cornell kept up this film-making activity intermittently throughout his life. He was included in the exhibition 'Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism' at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1936, and in 1938 he also participated in the 'Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme' at Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Paris. To support himself during the 1930s Cornell worked as a textile designer and during the 1940s he did commercial illustrations for magazines such as Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. He also contributed articles and illustrations to the journals View and Dance Index. By the 1940s he had established friendships with such prominent European Surrealists as Max Ernst and Matta, and was exhibiting his work regularly. In 1942 he shared an exhibition with Marcel Duchamp at Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century Gallery and in 1944 participated in the touring exhibition 'Abstract and Surrealist Art in the United States' selected by Sidney Janis. He was given his first solo museum exhibition in 1953 at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and two museum retrospectives of his work were held in 1967 - at the Pasadena Art Museum and at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Cornell died in Flushing, New York, on 29 December 1972.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra