Joseph Cornell 1903-1972
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Cornell, 1965
I worked as Joseph Cornell's assistant during the summer and fall of 1965, during which time I shot four rolls of Kodachrome 16mm film in and around Cornell's house. The scenes included a brief biographical glimpse of Cornell and his work, as well as his working environment, which is perhaps the more valuable record now since it no longer exists. I found the film difficult to complete as evidence by the full thirteen years between the filming and the editing. I believe the fascination with Cornell's work that was felt while he was alive (and the continuing fascination) centers around a quality which is hard for me to describe. It is that quality, since I experienced it at first hand and over a long period of time, which I have tried to elucidate in this film: an aesthetic personality which never backed off from aesthetic experience, never divided personal enjoyment from art, never worked and then got drunk to relax from working, or horsed around with the creative process, and at the same time could encompass sentiment in the strongest displays of his art. This intensity finds a ready and willing audience. It is not merely the result of an individual style but embodies much more universal qualities and, I feel, is quite worthy of perpetuation among artists of succeeding generations. - Lawrence Jordan