Untitled (Medici Boy) (1942-1952) by Joseph Cornell

Untitled (Medici Boy) - Joseph Cornell - 1952

Artwork Information

TitleUntitled (Medici Boy)
ArtistJoseph Cornell
Dimensions13 15/16 x 11 3/16 x 3 7/8 in.
Art MovementSurrealism
Current LocationEstate of Joseph Cornell

About Untitled (Medici Boy)

The artwork “Untitled (Medici Boy)” was created by the artist Joseph Cornell in 1952. As a work associated with the Surrealism art movement, it presents a dream-like and imaginative visual language. The artwork measures 13 15/16 inches in height, 11 3/16 inches in width, and 3 7/8 inches in depth. The genre of this piece is considered to be an installation, and currently, it is held in the Estate of Joseph Cornell. The artwork employs a combination of found objects and imagery to evoke a sense of mystery and nostalgia.

“Untitled (Medici Boy)” is a captivating assemblage that showcases Cornell’s signature style of box construction. The artwork features a wooden box that is divided into compartments, each holding a variety of objects and images. In the central, largest compartment of the box, there is an enigmatic portrait of a young boy, which dominates the visual focus. This figure has often been related to the portraits of figures from the Medici family, an influential dynasty during the Italian Renaissance, a connection that aligns with the surrealists’ interest in juxtaposing disparate elements from different times and spaces.

Surrounding the central image are smaller compartments filled with what appear to be vintage photographs, numbers, and other ephemera that create a collage effect. These elements are carefully arranged to draw the viewer into Cornell’s evocative world, filled with symbolism and allusion. The range of textures, materials, and the play of depth within the box contribute to a sense of intrigue. Beneath the main portrait, the lower section of the box contains a spiral and boxes within boxes, suggesting a sense of infinity or a portal to another dimension.

The use of shadow and light within the box adds to the atmospheric quality of the work, hinting at the inner psychological landscapes that Cornell was known for exploring. The artwork as a whole imparts a sense of timelessness, blending the historical with the personal, and the ordinary with the magical, to invite contemplation and personal interpretation from viewers.

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