Untitled (Soap Bubble Set) (1936) by Joseph Cornell

Untitled (Soap Bubble Set) - Joseph Cornell - 1936

Artwork Information

TitleUntitled (Soap Bubble Set)
ArtistJoseph Cornell
Dimensions15 3/4 x 14 1/4 x 5 7/16 in.
Art MovementSurrealism

About Untitled (Soap Bubble Set)

“Untitled (Soap Bubble Set)” is an artwork by Joseph Cornell created in 1936, belonging to the Surrealism movement. The piece is a form of installation art, measuring 15 3/4 by 14 1/4 by 5 7/16 inches. Situated within a shadow box, the artwork fuses found objects and collage into a single frame, a characteristic practice of the artist, evoking a sense of enigmatic narrative and inviting personal interpretations.

The artwork presents a constellation of items that seem to float in their own designated spaces within a shadow box frame, which functions both as a container and a window into Cornell’s constructed world. Central to the composition is a large lunar map, which serves as the backdrop, providing a celestial theme resonant with dreams and exploration. Flanked by this map are various other objects including what appears to be a clay pipe, a glass containing a marbled orb, three white cylindrical shapes aligned horizontally, and a sculpted face, which may be positioned sideways.

Above this central narrative, there are three additional cylindrical shapes, the leftmost one featuring an image of a figure and the rightmost one displaying a graphic of a public square. These objects rest on a grid-like paper or fabric, perhaps part of the abstruse ephemera Cornell was known to collect. The lower section of the artwork is adorned by a small clay pipe, further reinforcing an atmosphere of contemplation and wonder. The overall assembly within the shadow box suggests an intricate play of memory, fantasy, and historical reference, revealing a private universe where each object has been meticulously placed to provoke curiosity and evoke the subconscious.

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