Joseph Cornell’s Manual of Marvels
How Joseph Cornell reinvented a French Agricultural Manual to create an American Masterpiece
Joseph Cornell, Analisa Leppanen-Guerra, Dickran Tashjian
Thames & Hudson, London & Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2012
Joseph Cornell loved to meander through Manhattan’s secondhand bookstalls and antiquarian shops in search of books, old documents, and faded photographs. One day, he came upon a French agricultural manual, the Journal d’Agriculture Pratique, from 1911.
He took it home and began to work on the book, making cutouts through which one could view collaged elements, inserting images from old photographs, and tipping-in classic paintings and transparent overlays. In the process, Cornell reinvented the French manual as an American masterpiece.