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Birds of a Feather: Joseph Cornell's Homage to Juan Gris

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Outgoing Loan
1/2/2018 - 4/30/2018
Organizing institution: Metropolitan Museum of Art

This Exhibition includes the following Venues:
  • Metropolitain Museum of Art 1/22/2018 - 4/15/2018

On October 21, 1953, Joseph Cornell (American, 1903--1972) visited an exhibition of modern art at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York and was enthralled by one work, The Man at the Cafe (1914), by Cubist artist Juan Gris (Spanish, 1887--1927). An oil on canvas with newpaper collage, this mysterious image depicts a man "covered almost completely by his reading matter," as Cornell wrote in his diary. Its dramatic play of shadows, glowing colors, and faux wood-grain surfaces captured his imagination, and over the following thirteen years, he produced eighteen glass-fronted boxes, two collages, and one sand tray in homage to Gris-- the largest series that Cornell dedicated to any one artist. The leitmotif of these works is the image of a white-crested cockatoo, based on an egraving from William Thomas Greene's Parrots in Captivity (1884). Cornell's series, with its bird, conspicuous shadows, and accompanying collage elements, revels in verbal and visual aviary puns, as well as allusions to the life of Gris, whom Cornell considered "a warm fraternal spirit." This exhibition brings together, for the first time, the original work that inspired Cornell and twelve of his Gris boxes.

The Man at the Cafe is a promised gift to The Metropolitan Museum of Art from the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection. "Birds of a Feather: Joseph Cornell's Homage to Juan Gris" inaugurates a series of focues dossier exhibitions inspired by a work in the Lauder Collection and organized under the auspices of the Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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