Creativity, the Commonplace, and the Cosmos: Joseph Cornell’s Formative Visit to the Hayden Planetarium

To recompense the unsuccessful Native American art school outing, Cornell decides to head to the Museum of Natural History and forage for motivation there. In a burst of spontaneity, after hours of copying Native designs into his sketchbook below an old oil painting of “an Indian princess” at the museum library, he decides to make his very first check out to the museums now-iconic Hayden Planetarium, then simply a few years old.

However much the telescopic point of view may lavish us with self-transcendence, it is only a short-term transcendence– the human animal is not marrowed and tendoned to wander the large vistas of universal reality for too long before growing paralyzed once again by its developed parochial partialities.

Upon returning to Earth, he instantly moors the conceptual quickening of the universes to the empirical materiality of his art, currently foraging for objects at the museum that would invoke the feeling-tone of the celestial phenomenon, currently constellating those things into shadow-boxed poems in his minds eye to invite the very same transcendent cosmic point of view:.

Into the city and all the method up to the Museum of the American Indian to discover it closed! An abstract sensation of geography and voyaging I have actually believed about previously of getting into items, like the Compass Set with map. A pointer of earliest school-book days when the world was divided up into irregular masses of brilliant colors, with vignettes of the pictorial world scattered, like toy picture-blocks.

The Planetarium was another moving experience, particularly on the second floor with its blue dome, silhouetted city sky-line fringing it, and the progressive look of all the stars in the night sky to music.

A tip of that terrific feeling of detachment that comes over me every now and then– a leisurely sort of feeling that seems to impart to the routine events of the day a particular sense of “festivity.”.
[…] Into the city and all the method approximately the Museum of the American Indian to discover it closed! Settlement in the buoyant sensation excited by the structures of the Geographic Society in their quiet prosperous setting. An abstract sensation of location and voyaging I have considered previously of entering into items, like the Compass Set with map. A tip of earliest school-book days when the world was divided up into irregular masses of intense colors, with vignettes of the pictorial world spread, like toy picture-blocks.

In the spring of 1919, as the world was getting rid of the particles and misery of its first international war, the queer Quaker astronomer Arthur Eddington left England to traverse seas and meridians and blood-stained borders in an enthusiastic exploration to observe a total solar eclipse in order to prove appropriate, at the threat of his own credibility, the questionable theory of a ridiculed German Jew. Eddingtons historic observation of totality validated his impulse, verified relativity, catapulted Einstein into worldwide celebrity, revolutionized our understanding of the universe, and united war-torn humanity under the same sky of essential, impressive fact.

Joseph Cornell, Untitled (Celestial Navigation), 1958. (U.S. Department of State/ Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation) Not yet conscious of how that extemporaneous encounter would foment the future of his art– as we rarely are of our most catalytic motivations the moment we experience them i the wild– Cornell composes:.

He finds himself tuning out the dull academic lecture– “there suffices reconstruction of the night atmosphere and actually so well done, to offset it”– and lets his creativity trip into the celestial splendor. In a deeply pleasing parenthetical wink, penned long prior to the world had awakened to Hedy Lamarrs contribution to science, he adds:.

Joseph Cornell, Untitled (Solar Soap Bubble Set Series), 1955Within a generation, as the world was being savaged anew by its most bloodthirsty war yet, the artist Joseph Cornell (December 24, 1903– December 29, 1972) leaned on the cosmic perspective for a different sort of coherence, infusing astronomy into his visionary shadow boxes: reliquaries of the mundane cleaned up on the shoreline between memory and dream, discarded fragments of this world put together into websites to another– a world of our world, yet more magical, more mystical, more immortal in its obsolescence.

She was more at-one today with the night sky of the Planetarium. On the amid floor a particularly great set of murals of the zodiac, picked out in white on blue.

( Yesterday I was trying to fit Hedy Lamarr into Dante Gabriel Rossettis pre-Raphaelite garden, without success. She was more at-one today with the night sky of the Planetarium. I wish she might have done the lecturing, with her terrific detachment.).

Joseph Cornell, Soap Bubble Set, 1949-1950 (Smithsonian American Art Museum) On a warm and clear summer season Tuesday in 1941, as WWII is rendering today excruciating and the future unsure, Cornell trips first into the human past and then into the remote consolations of spacetime in a journal entry consisted of in the out-of-print treasure Joseph Cornells Theater of the Mind: Selected Diaries, Letters, and Files (public library):.

Joseph Cornell, Observatory Series: Corona Borealis, 1950 (SFMoMA/ Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation) Nearly a century later, in another unpredictable present amid another moment of cultural tumult, the venture to build New York Citys first public observatory emerged from the kindred sense that we might never ever know what child may step into the dome of possibility to become the next Eddington, what young artist may grow bewitched by the science and splendor of the universes through the telescope to end up being the next Cornell, or how many generations of human eyes and minds might check out the telescope to transcend the smallness of point of view that makes us draw imaginary lines of unbelonging below this limitless shared sky.

The astronomical stuff: charts, openness, broken meteors, and especially compass curios (likewise armillaries, telescopes, and so on) are interesting. On the amid floor a particularly great set of murals of the zodiac, selected out in white on blue.

Joseph Cornell, Solar Set (Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation) Although the night sky had captivated Cornell considering that childhood, it was this see to the planetarium that made astronomy a focal point of his art for the remaining 3 years of his life, both as an object-category to for his boxes and as a sensemaking framework for the mini cosmogonies of implying embedded inside them.