Joseph Cornell – Artwork & Bio of the American Sculptor

Joseph Cornell was an American sculptor born on 24 December 1903 in Nyack, New York. Cornell never received formal art instruction, developing his artistic prowess solely through his hunger for learning about cultures and art. He discovered what would be his signature art medium while checking out Japanese print shops.

Cornell participated in the 1930s exhibition that launched the Surrealism movement in America. He had his first solo show in 1932 and participated subsequently in several other shows. Cornell also experimented with filmmaking. Later, he worked on collages and restructured some of his famous boxes. Cornell died of heart failure on 29 December 1972 in Queens, New York.

What was Joseph Cornell Known For?

Joseph Cornell was known for creating sculptures by assembling different items in boxes that he termed shadow boxes. Cornell infused mystery into the artworks by making an unusual combination of objects in glass-covered boxes away from their usual context and drawing his viewers into a fantastical world of imagination.

Who was Joseph Cornell Influenced By?

Cornell was friends with many other Surrealist painters and artists, many of whom influenced his artwork. Some of these artists are Marcel Duchamp, Carolee Schneemann, and Robert Motherwell. Other famous Surrealist artists who influenced Cornell include Max Ernst, Giorgio di Chirico, and Kurt Schwitters.

What Art Movement was Joseph Cornell Associated With?

Joseph Cornell was associated with the Surrealism art movement. Though he rejected the Surrealist label, Cornell’s works are associated with Surrealism because of the unnatural assemblage of unrelated objects.

Joseph Cornell Artwork

Cornell’s artworks are some of the earliest examples of assemblage in the postwar American art scene. His shadow boxes influenced the Fluxus movement and some aspects of Installation art. Below are some of the box assemblages of Joseph Cornell


A Parrot for Juan Gris



Baby Mary

Cockatoo and Corks

Grand Owl Habitat

Habitat Group for a Shooting Gallery

Medici Prince

Medici Princess

Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall




Pink Palace

The Hotel Eden

Tilly Losch

Toward the Blue Peninsula

Unknown Title

All Joseph Cornell Artwork on Artchive

Artwork Name Year Medium
Verso Of Cassiopeia #1
Cassiopeia #1
Defense d'Afficher 1939
A Swan Lake for Tamara Toumanova 1946 photostats on wood, blue glass, mirrors,
L'Egypte de Mlle Cleo de Merode cours 1940
Untitled (Window Facade) c. 1950
A Parrot for Juan Gris 1953
Grand Hotel Semiramis 1950 Construction
Habitat Group for a Shooting Gallery 1943
Object (Abeilles) 1940
Object (Roses des Vents) 1953
Tilly Losch 1935
Toward the Blue Peninsula 1952
Untitled (Apollinaris) 1954
Untitled (Bebe Marie) 1940
Untitled (Cockatoo and Corks) 1948
Untitled (Grand Owl Habitat) 1946
Untitled (Hotel du Cygne) 1955
Untitled (Medici Boy) 1952
Untitled (Medici Prince) 1952
Untitled (Medici Princess) 1948
Untitled (Paul and Virginia) 1948
Untitled (Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall) 1946
Untitled (Pharmacy) 1943
Untitled (Pink Palace) 1948
Untitled (Soap Bubble Set) 1936
Untitled (Solar Set) 1958
Untitled (The Hotel Eden) 1945
Untitled 1942
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