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PRINT February 1963

Notes on the Nature of Joseph Cornell

CORNELL LIVES IN Flushing, New York. He was born at Nyack, New York, in December, 1903. Little is known of the artist’s early life, though a schoolboy interest in the theatre, history, and symbolist poetry is revealed. There is no record of college education or formal art training.

There is little doubt that there was a special cultural climate in New York during his early years. The Armory show of 1913, which in turn produced the Steiglitz Gallery, the first avant-grade gallery in America, featured photography as much as painting. The climate of opinion at that time considered that photography, and the movie, would open a new avenue of illusionistic and fantastic art. In New Jersey, in about 1916, Mack Sennett formed the Vita-Graph Film Company. Also, during these early years, the first visit to America of Cornell’s favorite artist, Marcel Duchamp.

At the very inception of the film media

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