on 17 April 2009
I would like to congratulate the creators of this book. For someone like me who is new to assemblage this book is a tremendous help. The section of the book about Cornell's life and work is fascinating, well-written and illustrated throughout. It's different to the dry, academic style of other art books, talking of his contributions to Surrealism and of his fascination of collecting. The back of the book is the "Projects" section, which is designed to "fuel your imagination" and get you started in the art of assemblage. There are six styles of box it advises on, all looked at thoughtfully and in depth with a list of suggested materials and equipment to use. At the back there is a list of websites where you can order assemblage supplies. To top it all off, the book comes housed in a surprisingly sturdy hinged cardboard box, which contains five vintage-style collage sheets, the net for a fold-up cube, an array of small picture cards, a removable cardboard grid and more besides! A lot of effort has obviously been put into this and it's paid off. Other opinions elsewhere have been different, but I think this is a truly beautiful introductory set.
on 15 August 2011
This is beautiful & lovely - it's a shame that it appears to be out of print at the moment.
It's a book in a box that's made up to look like one of Joseph Cornell's boxes, essentially. The book has a short biography of Cornell - suitable for children, and not particularly deep - then encourages readers to attempt their own collages and boxes, giving ideas for themes and methods of composition, as well as suggesting the kinds of objects that could be used. It serves as a great introduction to Cornell - and unlike some stuff I've read about him before, it doesn't patronise him. It shows him as competent, deep & very engaged in the arts that surrounded him - it doesn't fetishise some idea of "outsider art", doesn't go on and on about how he rarely left New York. This is encouraging, & good for those who read this & use it to form their ideas about art both as an appreciator & as somebody who might want to actually do it. The projects it lists for readers to try out are, unavoidably, derivative, but that doesn't really matter - & a lot of the book is about imagination/evocation, about methods of thought more than methods of imitation.
I really, really liked it. It's deeper & more well considered than a lot of the twee books for children/adults that fill this same general field - like 'Destroy this book' or what have you. It serves as a good introduction to a great artist with a lot of beautiful photographs & astute writing about his art & method, & it tells us to go away and collect things ourselves. Beautiful.
This is partly a booklet about Joseph Cornell and his wonderful boxes, with good colour illustrations and informative (if shortish, 78 pages all in) text; and partly a how-to-do-it-yourself kit on making boxes a la Cornell. To this end you get a pre-made carton box with lid and subdivisions and backgrounds, plus various bits and pieces to use in the box; and instructions, hints and thoughts on how to make such a box, and, more importantly, how to use your own dreams/imagination to translate inanimate parts into a work of art.
I think this would inspire eleven-year olds and up- it certainly got me enthousiastic again, not only in admiring Cornell, but also in making more boxes of my own.