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Explore "Joseph Cornell and Surrealism" at U.Va.'s The Fralin Museum of Art
Joseph Cornell, American, 1903–1972. Untitled (Harlequin Jumping Jack), c. 1935–38. Box construction, 13 7/8 x 12 1/8 x 2 1/2 in, 35.24 x 30.8 x 6.35 cm. Gift of The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, 2002.15.1. The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Art © The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.- “Joseph Cornell and Surrealism” focuses on the work of the American artist Joseph Cornell (1903, Nyack, NY – 1972, New York, NY) in the 1930s and the 1940s. These years span both Cornell’s emergence and maturation as a visual artist and the heyday in New York of surrealism, the international art movement founded by André Breton in Paris in 1924. This international loan exhibition is a collaboration of the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon and The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia. Following a run in Lyon (Oct. 18, 2013 – Feb. 10, 2014), the exhibition opens at The Fralin on Mar. 7 and will remain on view through June 8, 2014.

In order to demonstrate the catalyzing effect of surrealism on Cornell’s art, the exhibition will present key works by Cornell alongside pieces by major figures associated with the movement, including Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, and Man Ray. “Surrealism was the revelation that launched Cornell as an exhibiting artist,” said Matthew Affron, the Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and formerly The Fralin’s Curator of Modern Art, who curated the exhibition together with Sylvie Ramond, Director and Chief Curator at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon. “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.”

Works on display will include the two- and three-dimensional formats for which Cornell 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, including the artist's engagement with photography, his groundbreaking work in collage cinema, and the open-ended and non-linear archives of printed materials that Cornell called his “explorations.”

Thanks to generous gifts from The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation and Buzz Miller, who assembled a collection of 20th century art with Alan Groh of the Stable Gallery, The Fralin houses an impressive collection of Cornell’s works, including six boxes and fourteen collages, making it well-suited to spearhead such an exhibition.

Accompanying programming will include a symposium co-organized with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, guided tours, a poetry reading inspired by Cornell’s art, and programs for children. All events are free and open to the public. Visit The Fralin’s website for more information.

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