October 19, 2013 - Museum of Fine Arts – Lyon - Joseph Cornell and Surrealism in New York
October 19, 2013

Joseph Cornell and Surrealism in New York

Joseph Cornell, Untitled (Tilly Losch), 1935. Private collection. © The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation / SIAE. Photo: Mark Gulezian, QuickSilver Photographers LLC.

Joseph Cornell and Surrealism in New York
October 18, 2013–February 10, 2014

Museum of Fine Arts – Lyon
20 place des Terreaux 
F-69001 Lyon
Hours: Wednesday–Monday 10am–6pm; 
Friday 10:30am–6pm

T + 33 (0) 4 72 10 17 40


Sylvie Ramond, conservateur en chef du patrimoine, Director of the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon
Matthew Affron, Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art

The exhibition Joseph Cornell and Surrealism in New York focuses on the work of Cornell, the American pioneer of collage, montage, and assemblage art, in the decades of the 1930s and the 1940s.  These years span both Cornell’s emergence and maturation as an artist and the heyday of surrealism in the United States. Surrealism launched Cornell as an exhibiting artist. It was also the cultural milieu that shaped and molded him through the first half of his career. The exhibition presents key works by Cornell as well as images by other major artists, such as Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, and Man Ray, to evoke that surrealist environment in New York and to trace Cornell’s course through it. This will be the first exhibition focusing on Cornell to be hosted by a French museum since the touring exhibition from the Museum of Modern Art in New York visited the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris in 1981.

While Cornell has been the subject of large monographic exhibitions in the USA, Joseph Cornell and Surrealism in New York is the first to place this great American master within the larger international context of Surrealism. More specifically, it centers on surrealism’s catalyzing effect on Cornell’s art.  Surrealism activated the development of Cornell’s signature working method: collage and the related procedures of montage, construction, and assemblage. And it was to surrealism that Cornell owed his basic conception of the visual image as the product of poetic juxtaposition.  With this in mind, the exhibition will explore the diversity and interconnectedness of Cornell’s artistic practices and formats. These include, of course, the two-and three-dimensional formats for which he is best known: collages, found object pieces, and shadow box constructions containing found objects. The other major strands of Cornell’s achievement will also receive in-depth examination: the artist’s engagement with photography, his ground-breaking work in collage film, and the open-ended and non-linear archives of printed materials that he called his “explorations.” Juxtapositions with key works by other artists—Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dalí, Alberto Giacometti, Mina Loy, René Magritte, Lee Miller, Man Ray, Yves Tanguy, among others—will elucidate his activity in the context of surrealism.

This international loan exhibition is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon in collaboration with the Fralin Museum of Art, University of Virginia. 

Museum of Fine Arts – Lyon
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