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Modern and Contemporary Art

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Artwork Details


Joseph Cornell
American, 1903–1972


ca. 1957


Box construction with paper, metal, photomechanical reproduction, tempera, clay, cork, glass, and wood

Accession #



9 5/8 x 15 1/8 x 3 11/16 inches


On View - Stent Family Wing, Skyway, Gallery 407


Joseph Cornell shared the European Surrealists’ fascination with the subconscious but approached his subjects with a romantic whimsy free from Surrealism’s ominous overtones. For Cornell, childhood represented unfettered imagination and provided an endless source of inspiration. Thus games and child-like fantasy are ever-present aspects of his work. Part of a series frequently referred to as Soap Bubble Sets, this work includes objects and themes that symbolize Cornell’s Dutch heritage, such as the white clay pipe. The blue ball represents both a soap bubble and the moon as it rolls across the sky—an allusion invoked by the title Cassiopeia, the name of a star.


Gift of The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation

Image Copyright

© The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation/VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York