Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Untitled (The Hotel Eden), c. 1945

In the later half of the 1940s, Cornell moved away from his early Surrealist inspirations and began making art that was more closely tied to the current movement, Abstract Expressionism. The Aviary boxes, with their clean, white walls, have a stark look that differs from his earlier boxes. Cornell was delighted when Willem de Kooning once admired the "architecture” of the series. The boxes in his Aviary series hint at Cornell's long obsession with birds. He loved watching them play in the birdbath in his backyard and his mother often would chastise him for letting birds eat crumbs off the kitchen table. There are many possible interpretations for the birds housed in the Aviary boxes. The curvaceous, feather-clad singers could symbolize the beautiful female performers he pined for. The fragile, flying creatures may have reminded Cornell of the innocent spirit that he often admired in children. Or perhaps the birds represent Cornell himself - a lonely creature, trapped in a cage.

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