Birds of a Feather
Joseph Cornell’s Homage to Juan Gris series now on exhibition at the Met
It’s October 22, 1953, and Joseph Cornell writes in his journal: “Juan/gr is/janis Yesterday” On one of many gallery strolls through the streets of Midtown Manhattan, Cornell came across Gris’ cubist masterpiece The Man at the
Café at the Sidney Janis Gallery on East 57th Street and was struck by the work the Spanish painter had completed nearly 40 years prior.
Later in his journals, Cornell would write how he was taken by
Gris’ depiction of “a man reading a newspaper at a café table covered almost completely by his reading material.”the brief interaction inspired Cornell to create 18 boxes over the next 13 years dedicated to Gris, whom he referred to as a “warm fraternal spirit.”
“Completed over a period of 13 years, Cornell’s series of Gris shadow boxes is more extensive in number than any other that the artist openly dedicated to one of his admired luminaries of stage, screen, literature, or the visual arts,” says the Met, where Birds of A Feather: Joseph Cornell’s
Homage to Juan Gris opened January 23 and will be up through mid-april.
The exhibition brings together a dozen of Cornell’s Gris-inspired pieces along with the original cubist
Juan Gris (1887-1927), The Man at the Café, 1914. Oil and newsprint collage on canvas, 39 x 28¼ in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Promised Gift from the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection. Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.