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Untitled (Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall) with Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall: Working Model Based Upon "To Have and Have Not"
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Joseph Cornell (1903-1972)\nUntitled (Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall) with Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall: Working Model Based Upon "To Have and Have Not"\nwood box construction--wood, glass, paint, tinted glass, mirror, foil paper, string, thread and printed paper collage\nworking model-paperboard folder with photographs, photomechanical reproductions, magazine excerpts, pamphlet and notes\n20½ x 17 x 3½ in. (52 x 17.7 x 8.8 cm.)\nExecuted circa 1945-1946. Working model executed 1945-1970.
US
NY, US
US

notes

Please note that this work has been requested for inclusion in the forthcoming exhibition Joseph Cornell: Wanderlust at the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, July 2015-January 2016.

On the evening of February 26, 1945, Joseph Cornell made his way back to his home at 3708 Utopia Parkway. It had been a wet afternoon, and the pavement was still glistening with the lingering drizzles of rain. Finding himself in his cluttered studio basement, Cornell in his characteristic and almost-incomprehensible scrawlpenciled down the days journey. Decided to go to Keiths, he began, referring to the Flushing, New York movie theater. Remembering the vacant, dark confines of the theater, Cornell grew skeptical about what he saw. Pure Hollywood hokum, the artist jotted down of Ernest Hemingway's To Have and Have Not, starring Humphrey Bogart and the nascent Lauren Bacall, who he described as disappointing in her Hollywood debut (J. Cornell, quoted in D. Tashjian, Joseph Cornell: Gifts of Desire, Miami Beach, 1992, p. 121). And yet, through a stroke of instant desire, Cornell withdrew his initial assessment of the young actress in favor a growing fascination with her close-ups. Playing the role of Maria Browning, a young woman trying to escape the island of Martinique during the Second World War, Bacall was supported by an immense Warner Brothers publicity campaign. Lauded as "The Look," the twenty-year-old actress became an overnight sensation. Haunted by the actress' handsome visage, the artist noted, Her profile in one shot [is an] absolute vertical, this, of course intrigued Cornell as he had focused on a similar close-up of Hedy Lamarr in her movie Come Live With Me for his 1941 homage to the actress in the Enchanted Wanderer (Ibid., p. 121). Over the next several years, Bacall would continue to captivate and enchant Cornell in a deeply spellbinding and devout fandom of the actress.

Capturing the sensational moment when the Hollywood studios were at their peak, Cornell embarked on a project that would occupy him throughout the next two years of his life. The resulting jewel-like box, Untitled (Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall), and its accompanying dossier, Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall: Working Model Based Upon To Have and Have Not, 1945-1970, emerged not only as adoring tributes that stand as majestic and commanding evocations of a single mans forlorn fandom, but also as emblems for the veneration of the silver-screens gilded stardom. The box, which occupies a place of pride in Cornell's oeuvre as his most significant homage to an actressamong troves of gifts and dedications to the Romantic ballethas become a self-proclaimed high-altar from where the American public could exult in the contentment that has come to emanate from the marvel of manufactured stardom. As the famed curator and prestigious museum director Walter Hopps once proclaimed, "The Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall, which is very beautiful in its blue monochrome nature, is complex and medieval. Its a whole architectonic structure of images built around a central one, like a great northern Renaissance altarpiece. Cornell transposed the composition of Christian altarpieces into his homages of great entertainers and beautiful women" (W. Hopps, Joseph Cornell: Shadow Play Eterniday, London, 2003, p. 70).

Indeed, Cornells own genuine regard for Bacall in itself was practically a religious experience. Over the next few months the artist saw To Have and Have Not several timesgreatly admiring the details of the film. Modeling the iconic box he made in her honor after the penny-operated game machines, which he had often remembered from the amusement parks of his youth, Cornell selected a carefully studied and deeply appreciated close-up to adorn the center of his box. Included in the dossier, Cornell had fondly recalled Bacall in a black evening dress bare midriff singing/huge close-up of head turning as she takes in/audience with typical look/chiaroscuro lighting under lamp in Bogarts room/absolute vertical line of chin and browit was this still that seized not only Cornells affections, but also the center stage for one of his most esteemed works (J. Cornell, quoted in D. Tashjian, op cit., p. 131). It was from this image that Cornell could peel away the cheese-cake and go beyond the typical fans perception of a new slinky, sultry, sexy siren of the silver screen to discover a girl of Botticellian slenderness with a jeune fille awkwardness in turn accentuating her hard boiled and very honest and sincere qualities to a touching degree (J. Cornell quoted in ibid.). More so, having discovered some unexpectedly fresh (Kodak) pictures of her childhood, Cornell sought to assemble the Bacall box along the lines of A Medici Slot Machine (J. Cornell quoted in ibid., p. 132). Following the compositional structure of the Medici boxes, Cornell carefully organized Bacall's childhood photographs as well as some snapshots of her cocker spaniel, Droopy, in the columns neighboring her central portrait. As a result, a thematic resonance is articulated throughout the Medici Slot Machines and Untitled (Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall) both underscoring the purity of childhood.

Previously exploring the notion and structure of the penny arcade in his aforementioned Medici Slot Machines, Cornell brought the Bacall portrait a step further. Implementing moving parts, this work functions with a certain air of enjoyment as though it were meant to be played. Operated by dropping a small wooden ball into a trapdoor situated at the top of the box, the ball zooms in and out of view as it descends. Zigzagging past images of the Manhattan skyline, innocent snapshots of the young Bacall and her cocker spaniel, and finally the star-studded portrait of Bacall the actress, the ball makes a series of soft plinks as it drops from one glass runway to the next before finally landing in a mirror-lined compartment at the bottom of its enchanted structure. As surmised by Deborah Solomon in her seminal text on the artist, Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell, this wandering ball suggests a man who is in and out of Bacalls life and has a special familiarity with the details surrounding her (D. Solomon, op cit., p. 175).

Clearly a work deeply personal and highly regarded by the artist, Cornell kept copious notes in his dossier. In his own poetically disjointed rhetoric, Cornell, both in his dossier and in the exhibition guide for his Romantic Museum: Portraits of Women at the Hugo Gallery, New York, described the ingeniously playful box as follows: "A Botticellian slenderness of extreme youth with a touch of jeune fille awkwardness contrasting the rude assurance with irresistible appeal. (The sullenness which became uninspired in subsequent films here redeemed by a grace of sincerity) the atmosphere of the cabaret songs, with indescribable effect of tenderness in the high notes against the husky ones in How Little We Know the nocturnal mood and half lights of the hotel roomthe evocation of the silent films in the boat scenes in the fog at night etc., etc., Impressions lingering despite the dense smoke-screen of hysterical publicity impressions bright and clean impressions intriguingly diverse that, in order to hold fast, one might assemble, assort, and arrange into a clean cabinetthe contraption kind of amusement resorts with the endless ingenuity of effect worked by coin and plunger, or brightly colored pin-balls traveling inclined runways starting in motion compartment after compartment with a symphony of mechanical magic of sight and sound borrowed from the motion picture artinto childhood into fantasy through the streets of New York through tropical skies etc., etc.,--into the receiving tray the balls come to rest releasing prizes as the honky-tonk piano-tinkling of the Hong Kong Blues fades out" (J. Cornell, quoted in D. Tashjian, op cit., p. 127).

Regardless of Cornell's passionate affections for Lauren Bacall, he never took an active measure to connect with the star. And yet, one can only suspect that the artist would have been elated to hear Bacall rejoice of his tribute years later, "I love it and wish I had it!" (D. Solomon, op. cit., p.75).

title

Untitled (Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall) with Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall: Working Model Based Upon "To Have and Have Not"

medium

Wood box construction--wood, glass, paint, tinted glass, mirror, foil paper, string, thread and printed paper collage

notice

Please note that this work has been requested for inclusion in the forthcoming exhibition Joseph Cornell: Wanderlust at the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, July 2015-January 2016.

prelot

The Bergman Collection

creator

Joseph Cornell

keywords

Joseph Cornell , 20th Century, Sculptures, Statues & Figures, United States of America, Post War

exhibited

New York, Hugo Gallery, Romantic Museum at the Hugo Gallery: Portraits of Women, Constructions and Arrangements by Joseph Cornell, December 1946.

New York, Museum of Modern Art; London, Whitechapel Gallery; Kunsthalle Düsseldorf; Florence, Palazzo Pitti; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and Art Institute of Chicago, Joseph Cornell, November 1980-March 1982, p. 18, no. 10 (illustrated); Florence, p. 50, no. 24 (illustrated).

Washington, D.C., Smithsonian American Art Museum, Joseph Cornell: An Exploration of Sources, November 1982-February 1983.

Art Institute of Chicago, The Lindy and Edwin Bergman Joseph Cornell Collection, June 1983-October 1989, no. 10 (on loan).

Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art; Art Institute of Chicago; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, On the Art of Fixing a Shadow: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Photography, May 1989-February 1990.

Philadelphia Museum of Art and Houston, Menil Foundation, Joseph Cornell, Marcel Duchamp-in Resonance, October 1998-May 1999, p. 204, no. 86.

Salem, Peabody Essex Museum; Washington, D.C., Smithsonian American Art Museum and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Joseph Cornell: Navigating the Imagination, April-August 2007, p. 201, no. 86, pl. 75 (illustrated in color).

Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall: Working Model Based Upon "To Have and Have Not":

New York, Museum of Modern Art; London, Whitechapel Gallery; Kunsthalle Düsseldorf; Florence, Palazzo Pitti; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and Art Institute of Chicago, Joseph Cornell, November 1980-March 1982, no. 111 (illustrated). New York and Chicago only.

Washington, D.C., National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Joseph Cornell: An Exploration of Sources, November 1982-February 1983.

Art Institute of Chicago, The Lindy and Edwin Bergman Joseph Cornell Collection, June 1983-August 1988, no. 22 (on loan).

department

POST-WAR & CONTEMPORARY ART

dimensions

20½ x 17 x 3½ in. (52 x 17.7 x 8.8 cm.)

literature

Joseph Cornell, 1903-1972, exh. cat., New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1967, p. 17.

A. Michelson, "Rose Hobart and Monsieur Phot: Early Films from Utopia Parkway", Artforum, June 1973, p. 51.

R. Krauss, "Magician's Game: Decades of Transformation, 1930-1950," Two Hundred Years of American Sculpture, exh. cat., New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, p. 165, fig. 246 (illustrated).

D. Waldman, Joseph Cornell, New York, 1977, p. 23, no. 72 (illustrated).

J. Hoberman, "The Strange Films of Joseph Cornell," American Film Magazine, January/February 1980, p. 19 (illustrated).

A. Michelson, "La Sequence: Joseph CornellLe Cinéma d'Utopia Parkway," Peinture-Cinema-Peinture, exh. cat., Musées de Marseille, 1989, p. 245 (illustrated in color).

D. Tashjian, Joseph Cornell: Gifts of Desire, Miami, 1992, p. 120, no. 36 (illustrated in color).

J. Hauptman, Joseph Cornell: Stargazing in the Cinema, New Haven, 1999, p. 59, no. 33 (illustrated in color).

L. Roscoe Hartigan, R. Vine, R. Lehrman and W. Hopps, Joseph Cornell: Shadowplay... Eterniday, New York, 2003, p. 71, no. 11 and p. 59, no. 7 (illustrated in color).

D. Solomon, Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell, New York, 2004, pp. 172-175, 220 and 289 (illustrated).

Joseph Cornell et les Surréalistes à New York, exh. cat., Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts, 2014, p. 368, no. 1.03 (illustrated in color).

provenance

Elizabeth Cornell Benton, New York, gift of the artist

Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1975


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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