Aha Moment: Jonathan Safran Foer on Joseph Cornell

Feature

Friday, January 13, 2012

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.”

(Originally aired: November 10, 2006)

>> 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

Penny Arcade series re Autumnal, Joseph Cornell
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.

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

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

Untitled (Cockatoo with Watch Faces), Joseph Cornell
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.

Untitled (Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall), Joseph Cornell
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.

Untitled (Soap Bubble Set), Joseph Cornell
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.

Untitled (Tilly Losch), 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.

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Jonathan Safran Foer

Comments [4]

AH

Two works made me become a professional artist - not saying they are the best works in the world but at the moment hit the spot!
1) the short from Woody Allen's film, NY Stories where Nick Nolte plays a stereotypical abstract expressionist. Art about art, actually. And it sounds so silly but true!
2) Soutine's paintings literally saved my life I think when I was struggling as a college student.

Apr. 16 2012 12:16 PM
carol

Rene Magritte's "Castle on the Pyraness". Later Joseph Cornell and Betye Saar. These images pointed me towards mixed media work and surrealism. I later met and was acquainted with Ms Saar, which was a big event in my life. She is a grand woman, highly intelligent and creative.

Jan. 16 2012 08:03 AM
Debbie Weider-Hatfield from St. Louis, MO

I read The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant in 2005 and knew then that I wanted to see Sandro Botticelli's The Birth of Venus. I did see it in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence in 2006, and now I try to paint every now and then.

Jan. 15 2012 03:02 PM
George Sabree from Parkville MD

Without question, the work that changed my life, was/is Picasso's Guernica. The painting is as relevant and powerful as ever.

Jan. 14 2012 03:14 PM

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