Toward the Blue Peninsula (1951-52) by Joseph Cornell

Toward the Blue Peninsula - Joseph Cornell - 1952

Artwork Information

TitleToward the Blue Peninsula
ArtistJoseph Cornell
Dimensions10 5/8 x 14 15/16 x 3 15/16 in.
Art MovementSurrealism

About Toward the Blue Peninsula

The artwork titled “Toward the Blue Peninsula,” created by artist Joseph Cornell in 1952, represents a quintessential piece of Surrealism. Measured at 10 5/8 x 14 15/16 x 3 15/16 inches, this installation is a testament to Cornell’s ability to transcend traditional artistic boundaries and to evoke a dream-like narrative through the assembly of found objects.

Upon examination, the artwork presents a delicate assemblage contained within a box, a signature form for Cornell, often referred to as a shadow box. It features a wooden frame box with a whitewashed exterior, adding to the sense of containment and separation from the outside world. Central to the piece is a miniature window set against a blue backdrop, suggestive of a vast sky or sea beyond. This window, with its white panes, appears to both offer and restrict a view to this ‘blue peninsula,’ creating a tension between the small, confined space and the infinite possibilities beyond.

The addition of metal wire grid enhances the sense of confinement, as if one is peering through a mesh or barrier to catch a glimpse of the world outside. A wooden ledge or shelf protrudes at the bottom, and what looks like a painted wooden object resembling the handle or lever of a mechanism sits to the right, further complicating the scene with its ambiguous function. The juxtaposition of these elements—the ethereal blue, the stark white of the window and grid, the worn textures of wood—suggests a confluence of the mundane with the poetic, a hallmark of Surrealism’s exploration of the unconscious.

“Toward the Blue Peninsula” invites contemplation about isolation and desire, freedom and constriction, as viewers are encouraged to interpret the scene through their individual lenses of imagination, memory, and emotion.

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