365 Days of Art: December 25 – Cornell Prefers His Exhibitions to Fall on Christmas

Glass-fronted box contains cockatoo and watches on display.
Cockatoo with Watch Faces, by Joseph Cornell, 1949

December 25

This is one of the most important dates on the calendar for Joseph Cornell, because he is born the day before, on December 24. His associations with happy childhood memories lead him to try to arrange all of his exhibitions to coincide with his birthday, and therefore, most of them fall on Christmas as well. Dealers are happy to comply with this request, since Cornell’s work–already attractively boxed–can easily be marketed as holiday gifts.

He’s emerged as one of my favorite artists of the year, from his children-only art exhibition, to his heartfelt sadness over Marilyn Monroe’s death, to his courteous correspondence, his sweet tooth and love of animals, and his genuine joy at small moments.

I feel compelled to point out that Cornell would’ve hated this project because he put no importance whatsoever on specific calendar dates.

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