Sometime in the early 1930s, Joseph Cornell came upon the Journal d’Agriculture Practique (Volume 21, 1911), a voluminous handbook of advice for farmers.
Over time Cornell altered and reinvented many of the pages in the Journal. He inserted collages, photomontages, and occasional drawings; he crossed out words in the text and made French puns with others.
“The fragile volume, discovered in Cornell’s basement studio by the curator Walter Hopps after the artist’s death, languished at the Smithsonian for more than 20 years before wending its way to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Kept under glass, it was almost impossible to examine beyond the single spread on display. Now, in collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum, 60 pages have been reproduced in an abridged facsimile edition and packaged together with a collection of essays compiled by the project’s editors, Analisa Leppanen-Guerra and Dickran Tashjian. An interactive CD of the entire work – all 844 pages – with pop-up footnotes explaining in even more detail the references, materials and Cornell’s methods, completes the set.” (Julie Bloom, review of Joseph Cornell’s Manual of Marvels, NY Times, 11-20-2012)
Dickran Tashjian, emeritus chair, Department of Art History, UC Irvine, is also the author of Joseph Cornell: Gifts of Desire, A Boatload of Madmen: Surrealism and the American Avant-Garde 1920-1950, and Skyscraper Primitives: Dada and the American Avant-Garde, 1910-1925.
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