Exhibitions

Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection

Images

  • A screen projects an image of an underwater scene with a circular black and yellow object on the sea floor, resembling a vinyl record. The image is mirrored along the vertical plane. The image is mirrored along the vertical plane.
  • A black-and-white photograph shows a light-skinned person without a shirt on leaning backward so their face is upside down.
  • A futuristic person wearing a brightly colored crop top and a skirt poses in between thirteen colorful spheres.
A screen projects an image of an underwater scene with a circular black and yellow object on the sea floor, resembling a vinyl record. The image is mirrored along the vertical plane. The image is mirrored along the vertical plane.
Pipilotti Rist, Sip My Ocean (Schlürfe meinen Ozean), 1996. Audio/video installation; overall dimensions variable. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Bernice and Kenneth Newberger Fund and restricted gift of Carol and Douglas Cohen, 1996.39. © 1996 Pipilotti Rist
Photo: Michael David Rose, © MCA Chicago
Rivane Neuenschwander and Cao Guimaraes, still from The Tenant, 2010. HD video projection; 10 minutes, 36 seconds. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Morton G. Neuman by exchange, 2011.5
Image courtesy of the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; Stephen Friedman Gallery, London; and Fortes Vilaça, São Paulo
A black-and-white photograph shows a light-skinned person without a shirt on leaning backward so their face is upside down.
Francesca Woodman, On Being An Angel, Providence, Rhode Island, Spring 1977, 1977. Gelatin silver print; 8 × 10 in. (20.3 × 25.4 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift from The Howard and Donna Stone Collection, 2002.73. © 1977 Francesca Woodman
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Gabriel Orozco, Socks 1, 1995. Silver dye-bleach print; framed: 22 1/8 × 28 1/8 × 1 3/8 in. (56.1 × 71.4 × 3.5 cm), sheet: 12 1/8 × 18 ¼ in. (30.8 × 46.4 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift from The Howard and Donna Stone Collection, 2002.51. © 1995 Gabriel Orozco
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Robert Heinecken, V.N. Pin Up (#1 of 2), 1968. Black-and-white film transparency on magazine page; sheet: 12 ½ x 10 in. (31.8 × 25.4 cm), Sight: 9 × 7 in. (22.9 × 17.8 cm), frame 17 ¼ x 14 ¼ in. (43.8 × 36.2 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Daryl Gerber Stokols, 1998.43. © 1968 Robert Heinecken
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Piotr Uklański, Untitled (Mountain Landscape), 2005. Gouache on Lanaquarelle paper collage on plywood; 43 1/3 × 48 × 2 in. (110 × 121.9 × 5 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Cari and Michael J. Sacks, 2005.28. © 2005 Piotr Uklański
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Thomas Hirschhorn, Serie B (50), 2000–01. Marker, ink, and magazine pages on paper in taped plastic sleeves; 20 parts, each: approx. 12 × 17 in. (30 × 43 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Susan and Lewis Manilow, 2008.30.a–t. © 2000–01 Thomas Hirschhorn
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
A futuristic person wearing a brightly colored crop top and a skirt poses in between thirteen colorful spheres.
Mariko Mori, Birth of a Star, 1995. 3D Duratrans, acrylic, light box, and audio CD; 70 3/16 × 45 ¼ x 4 ¼ in. (178.3 × 114.9 × 10.8 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of The Peter Norton Family Foundation, 1996.6.a–c. © 1995 Mariko Mori
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

About

Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the Collection is an exhibition that relies on the deep resources of Joseph Cornell’s work within Chicago, as well as the Chicago public’s warm familiarity with the American master’s work. Because of the constant presence and extensive holdings of Cornell’s work at the Art Institute of Chicago, generations have come to appreciate his particular brand of wide-eyed wonder and sly surrealist games. The range of Cornell’s interests, the acuity of his vision, and the timelessness of his subjects has allowed his work to stand the test of time, and thus it is no surprise that his influence resonates all the way to the present.

This exhibition puts Cornell’s work into direct dialogue with objects from the MCA Collection to illuminate the continued relevance of his pursuits while also grounding even very recent work within a historical continuum that yields surprises to this day. Spanning more than 60 years—and including media from painting and photography to sculpture and video—the exhibition relies on loose and playful juxtapositions to prompt new appreciations of his career and shows the work in a decidedly different and distinctively contemporary light. Examples of such pairings would be the nascent minimalism of Cornell’s rigorously geometric “Dovecotes,” which resonate with sculpture by artists such as Sol LeWitt, or later architecturally oriented photographs by Andreas Gursky. Likewise, the repeated imagery found in Cornell’s “Medici Slot Machine” sculptures make for prescient harbingers of the work of Andy Warhol, Wallace Berman, and others, not to mention the brooding mournfulness of Christian Boltanski’s photo-based installations.

Cornell’s brash collage aesthetic, where disparate images collide to form surprising new meanings, is also echoed in the work of David Salle, John Baldessari, John Stezaker, and many others from the postmodern generation. The far-reaching ricochets that visitors will glean from such a comparative approach will open up fresh considerations of Cornell’s place in art history and allow audiences to see an artist that they thought they knew well in an entirely new way.

Installation images

Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Installation view, Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, MCA Chicago, Jun 18–Oct 16, 2011
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Funding

Support for this exhibition is generously provided by Harris Bank.

Additional support is provided by the Alsdorf Foundation; James Corcoran Gallery LLC, Los Angeles; Helyn Goldenberg; and the Betty Z. Levinson Trust.

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