New York

Joseph Cornell

Leo Castelli Gallery

From the 1940s onward, Joseph Cornell’s collages look a good deal like his boxes. They are flat rather than three-dimensional, of course, but everything from the scale relationships inside them to the specific images they employ to the gentle melancholy of their surrealism is almost the same. The boxes are superior works for many reasons, and so what was most exciting about Cornell’s recent show were his collages from the 1930s, which until recently were entirely unknown.

It seems likely that these diminutive works—none is larger than 6 by 9 inches, and most are half that size—were exercises for Cornell, preparatory pictures for his boxes and later, elaborate color collages. Yet they might as well be small virtuoso pieces for the power they manage with absolutely minimal means. Each one is composed of no more than three or four parts; some of the best have only two. The only elements Cornell

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