Aha Moment: Jonathan Safran Foer on Joseph Cornell

Blog: 01.04.12

Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - 05:04 PM

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, just arrived in theaters.  It's an adaptation of the September 11-themed novel by Jonathan Safran Foer.

But before Foer became a novelist, he was an aspiring sculptor.  As a college freshman, he was introduced to the work of Joseph Cornell, the assemblage artist best known for his fantastical collaged boxes.  “I felt like this work was meant for me," Foer told Studio 360 in 2006.  "The effect those boxes had on me was a feeling that I wanted to perpetuate.” 

Although he ultimately settled on writing fiction, Foer remembers, “feeling that way about art, it’s like a muscle and once you know how to use it, you can use it more and it gets stronger.  I didn’t know what it was like to love a work of art until Joseph Cornell came along.”

 

Listen to the full story here:

 

Is there a work of art that changed your life?  Tell us in a comment below — or by e-mail.

 

Slideshow: Joseph Cornell’s boxes

Joseph Cornell Penny Arcade series re Autumnal
The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation. Licensed by VAGA, New York.
Photograph by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc

"Penny Arcade" series re Autumnal, October 14, 15, 1964.
Collage with ink and pencil on Masonite.
The Dicke Collection.

Joseph Cornell Interplanetary Navigation
The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation. Licensed by VAGA, New York.
Photograph by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc

Interplanetary Navigation, about 1962.
Collage with ink on Masonite.
Satoshi Yokota, Japan.

Joseph Cornell Untitled (Cockatoo with Watch Faces)
Peabody Essex Museum. Photo by Michael Tropea. The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.
Licensed by VAGA, New York

Untitled (Cockatoo with Watch Faces), 1949.
Box construction with inoperative music box, 16 1/4 x 17 x 4 7/16 inches.
The Lindy and Edwin Bergman Collection.

Joseph Cornell Untitled (Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall)
Peabody Essex Museum. Photo by Michael Tropea. The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.
Licensed by VAGA, New York

Untitled (Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall), 1945-1946.
Box construction with blue glass, 20 1/2 x 16 x 3 1/2 inches.
The Lindy and Edwin Bergman Collection.

Joseph Cornell Untitled (Soap Bubble Set)
Peabody Essex Museum. Photo by Allen Phillips. The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.
Licensed by VAGA, New York

Untitled (Soap Bubble Set), 1936.
Box construction, 15 3/4 x 14 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches.
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, purchased through the gift of Henry and Walter Keney.

Joseph Cornell
Mark Gulezian/Quicksilver. The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.
Licensed by VAGA, New York, New York

Untitled (Tilly Losch), 1935-1938.
Box construction, 10 x 9 1/4 x 2 1/8 inches.
The Robert Lehrman Art Trust, courtesy of Aimee and Robert Lehrman, Washington, DC.

Guests:

Jonathan Safran Foer

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Comments [1]

grateful listener from nyc

Fantastic boxes! Thank you for showing the inspirational work. I feel the same way: "The effect those boxes had on me was a feeling that I wanted to perpetuate.”

And, I also agree with Foer that art is "like a muscle and once you know how to use it, you can use it more and it gets stronger."

I look forward to seeing his film. It is wonderful how art grows other art - in so many different forms.

Jan. 15 2012 08:35 PM

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