Grand Hotel Semiramis (1950) by Joseph Cornell

Grand Hotel Semiramis - Joseph Cornell - 1950

Artwork Information

TitleGrand Hotel Semiramis
ArtistJoseph Cornell
Dimensions18 x 11 7/8 x 4 in
Art MovementSurrealism
Current LocationPrivate Collection, New York

About Grand Hotel Semiramis

The artwork “Grand Hotel Semiramis” is a celebrated construction by the artist Joseph Cornell created in 1950. Embodying the surrealism movement, the piece is composed within a box measuring 18 inches in height, 11 7/8 inches in width, and 4 inches in depth. It belongs to the genre of installation art and is currently held in a private collection in New York.

The artwork presents a captivating assemblage encased within a wooden box, a trademark of Cornell’s artistic practice. At the center stage, there is a solitary green parrot perched on a wooden stand, which immediately draws the viewer’s gaze. Surrounding the parrot are several objects including a grid-like lattice at the top of the box, evocative of a birdcage, which adds to the feeling of confinement and perhaps a yearning for freedom. Below the parrot, the title of the piece “Grand Hotel Semiramis” is inscribed, adding a layer of narrative or a reference to a location steeped in luxury or historic lore. A blue spherical object, possibly representing a ball or a piece of fruit, along with a small white cup, adds to the mystique of the ensemble, suggesting themes of leisure, travel, or exoticism often associated with Cornell’s works. The use of these objects creates a dreamlike scenario that challenges the boundaries between reality and imagination, characteristic of the surrealism movement. The precise arrangement of elements in Cornell’s box constructions often evokes a sense of nostalgia and longing, with a meticulous attention to detail and a poetic interplay between the objects contained within each piece.

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