Ever since I ve liked surrealism since high school but with Cornell s boxes I found a vulnerability and romanticism in his work I d not found with any other artist I was won over completely No bones about it like Cornell I m a collector My house is a Cornell box of memorabilia sculpture architectural fragments statues travel photos postcards movie posters film reels glass copper jewelry plants maps all sorts of phemera bits and pieces of my life Although I loved Cornell most people didn t know "About Him And I "him and I like an outsider Norman Rockwell is not my thing I came across a couple books about Cornell in the arly 1990 s and was thrilled to learn about the man My favorite is still Hauptman s captivating study Stargazing at the Cinema a difficult book to matchSimic s book is completely different not an in depth biographical art historical study but a different kind of scholarship Simic achieves the near impossible He writes the way Cornell made his boxes I could read a passage and close my yes and I could read a passage and close my Generations and Collective Memory eyes and Cornell s work It s a little pocket book to turn to at any time for a meditative boost So the 1995 was well worth it Dime Store Alchemy is a 5 x 7ighty two page hardbound navy blue linen jewel fabricated with a silver foil stamped title and a matte coated four color reproduction of the Medici Slot Machine 1942 which is tipped into a de bossed window an homage to Cornell in very sense of the word Bless computers and the internet Anyone can have pictures of dozens of Cornell boxes at their fingertips I don t know what it is about Nyack but it has produced two geniuses Edward Hopper was born there too Dime Store Alchemy perfectly pairs the mundane and the magical to capture Joseph Cornell s distinctive and various constructions in boxes and otherwise After looking at his boxes for decades I now know their maker had the same offbeat startling uality The poet Charles Simic has produced a short idiosyncratic meditative discourse with illustrations on Cornell his life on Utopia Boulevard and his compelling nigmatic boxes A poet writing about an artist produces a third work of art and so this relaxed and lovely writing is highly recommended for the triple pleasure of Cornell s constructions Simic poetic insights and the coming together of the two in this work Beautiful assessment of Joseph Cornell s work made by taking a Cornell like approach to the task little bits here and there Criticism and sheer poetry Simic tells the story of Cornell’s life and illuminates the hermetic mysteries of his From Notes to Narrative extraordinary boxes–objects in which private obsessions were alchemically transformed intonduring works of art Simic sees Cornell’s work as xemplifying a distinctively American aesthetic open to the world im. A beautiful poet on a beautiful artist I love verything about this book and recommend it to anyone interested in Cornell s work At some point my need for a solution was replaced by the poetry of my continuous failure Charles Simic Chessboard of the Soul You don t make art you find it You accept verything as its material The collage techniue that art of reassembling fragments of preexisting images in such a way as to form a new image is the most important innovation in the art of this century The commonplace is miraculous if rightly seen if recognized p 19 We Comprehend by Awe Modernism in art and literature gave unparalleled freedom to the individual to invent his or her own world from the parts of the xisting one It abolished the hierarchies of beauty and allowed an assemblage of styles and openness to daily xperience Only such all inclusive aesthetic could make sense of American reality Cornell lived these ideas in his art p 25 Coney Island Inside Every Head All art is a magic operation or if you prefer a prayer for a new image The city is a huge image machine A slot machine for the solitaries Coins of reverie of poetry secret passion religious madness it converts them all A force illegible p 30 A Force Illegible At some point my need for a solution was replaced by the poetry of my continuous failure p 45 Chessboard of the Soul OK Now that I ve read Dime Store Alchemy I ll write something The goodreads forum has helped me reconnect with my literary life I ve sorted through half my library and collected several dozen to donate not nough but all the inspiration around
made me succumb a latent book buying sickness and I placed a few on line orders Asylum Dance had been an lusive "Find So When It Turned "so when it turned I placed an order and added a few titles to get free shipping When the package arrived D S A was a disappointment because it seemed so teeny I paid list price and xpected something bigger with illustrations Back in 1981 a friend who worked with me in the art department at NBC sent me a poster from a Cornell xhibit at the Palazzo Vecchio Florence organized under the auspices of the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art New York I was bowled over Imagine a 28 x 40 black background with the simple headline Joseph Cornell reversed out in white Below that floats a scrumptious 18 x 24 color reproduction of one of Cornell s finest aviary boxes I ve treasured it. In Dime Store Alchemy poet Charles Simic refects on the life and work of Joseph Cornell the maverick surrealist who is one of America’s great artists Simic’s spare prose is as nchanting and luminous as the mysterious boxes of found objects for which Cornell is justly renownedIn a work that is in various degrees biography. Ornell s diary Foraging for Survival entries biographical notes observations and descriptions of Cornell s works baubles that arranged just so create a mood and impression of Cornell similar to those invoked by Cornell s shadowboxes This book isxcellent It has writing about Cornell and from Cornell and inspired by Cornell It has prose poems and references to poets and art and artists writing about art What it doesn t #Have Unfortunately Is The Art Itself There Are Few Poorly #unfortunately is the art itself There are few poorly black and white photos of Cornell s works "Lumped Together In The "together in the but that s it And Simic rarely Fragments elucidates which if any particular piece he is thinking of If you reader are familiar with Cornell s corpus you may sometimes guess which piece Simic has in mind but it would be so much lovelier if this were a lavish book with paired color plates and referenced poemsg Dickinson s Centuries of June something by Rimbaud printed out Soap Bubble SetHere Made Me Succumb
Latitude and Longitude A soap bubble went to meet infinity So ifand Longitude A soap bubble went to meet infinity So if were looking at my status updates and thinking of reading this do but I have to point out that much of what I posted specially the visuals is not present in the book I pursue an image no Gerard de Nerval All art is a magic operation or if you prefer a prayer for a new image Update After some rereading and processing I have come to a much fuller appreciation of this text and can rate accordingly Art is recreating reassembling what has been tragically sundered Art is seeking looking paying attention without dragging meaning into verything Art is image Art is collecting unlikely objects and looking in unlikely corners for beauty not new beauty just beauty that has skittered into the shadows and needs dusting off making over and over and over again41020 Fascinating insofar as the reflections on faith and art Got me thinking The rest I may need to read several times to appreciate uotable platitudes about modernism magic dreams and memorybland ponderous descriptions of boxes like crawling through mud when looking at the boxes themselves is like floating in airunseemly worship of the artist and mythologizing of his supposed reclusivitymusings and prose reveries about boxes that are so unimaginative so stilted and so imo inaccurate that i felt several times like throwing this book across the roomi really feel like this book is an injustice to cornell s arthow do so many by the way seem to miss the humor in his work. Provisatory at once homemade and universal modest and teasing and profound Full of unexpected riches Dime Store Alchemy is both an ntrancing meditation on the nature of art and a perfect introduction to a major American artist by one of his peers–a book that can be perused at length or dipped into at leisure again and again?. .