SAN DIEGO, CA.-
Museums in Miniature: Works by Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Cornell will open September 26, 2009 at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
in La Jolla. The exhibition explores the use of collage, assemblage, and staged tableaux by Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Cornell as plays on the notion of an exhibition space. Evocative juxtapositions, absurdities, and rebuses abound in Cornell's work, demonstrating the enduring influence of Duchamp's practice, and of Surrealism more broadly, during the second half of the 20th century.
Duchamp will be represented by MCASD's The Green Box (1934) a compendium of manuscript notes, drawings, and photographs documenting the development of his major work, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (1915-23), and by a version of his Boîte-en-valise (1942-54), which contains miniature replicas of three of Duchamp's readymades (mass-produced goods appropriated by Duchamp as artworks) and 68 printed reproductions of other works by the artist. The box is assembled in such a way that various parts slide out, fold out, or lift out for display to create what Duchamp described as a "miniature museum," or a portable retrospective of his oeuvre to that point.
The exhibition also showcases four box constructions donated to the museum by the Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation. The small format of Cornell's box sculptures implies intimacy, while the worn quality of his materials (torn maps, ticket stubs) suggests both nostalgia and transience. The rounded arches of Untitled (Grand Hôtel des Alpes) (1957) function as architectural fragments that refer to a monumental structure, while the elaborate fenestration of Pink Chateau (1944) seems the perfect backdrop for an epic ballet (both works require imagination on the part of the viewer to be completed). Duchamp's "miniature museums" are ironic, polemic, and humorous; Cornell's are richly textured and extraordinarily poetic. Together the works by Duchamp and Cornell serve as a prelude to the exhibition, Automatic Cities: The Architectural Imaginary in Contemporary Art on view in the adjacent galleries.