Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell

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9780374525712: Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell

Until the publication of Deborah Solomon's Utopia Parkway, Joseph Cornell (1903-1972) was thought of as a recluse who made his art almost accidentally during his humdrum life, which he spent looking after his mother and sickly brother. But this "remarkably energetic, lavishly detailed and boldly interpretive biography" (Donna Seaman, Chicago Tribune) established Cornell as an artist as serious as the Surrealists, Abstract Expressionists, and conceptual artists who dominated the New York art world in his lifetime. Not only does Solomon show that Cornell's shadow boxes were vastly influential in that world, she also shows that Cornell was a regular figure there, admired by Dal, Rothko, and Rauschenberg. Most of all, she reveals his astonishing inner life, swirling with fantasies about long-dead ballerinas, visions of Paris, and otherworldly desires. "Solomon has narrowed the distance between the life and the art," Arthur C. Danto wrote in Slate, ". . . with a sympathy and generosity one would hardly have dreamt possible."

ALA Book of the Year
New York Times Notable Book of the Year
New York Public Library Book to Remember

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Review:

Joseph Cornell (1903-72) lived in Queens with a domineering mother and severely handicapped brother while creating unique, haunting art: boxes filled with lovingly assembled objects and printed images. But this sympathetic biography demonstrates that he was more than an eccentric recluse, chronicling his friendships with other artists and his immersion in the avant-garde movements of his time. Art critic Deborah Solomon spikes her astute judgments with humor--noting her subject's fondness for epistolary relationships that spared him the unease of physical contact, she comments, "Cornell would have been great on the Internet."

About the Author:

Deborah Solomon writes about art for The New York Times and other publications. Her biography of Jackson Pollock was published in 1987. She lives in New York City.

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