Playful Pairing: Joseph Cornell and the MCA Collection
Michael Darling discusses some of the curatorial choices behind Pandora's Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection.
The Joseph Cornell exhibition was fun because I think Cornell is a fascinating figure. We actually only have one or two pieces in the collection by him, but luckily Helen and Sam Zell just right across the street have an amazing collection of Joseph Cornell, so they were willing to lend some pieces. And the thing that was really fun for me was putting Cornell in conversation with people that you wouldn't expect. So one room in particular that had a great Pipilotti Rist installation called Sip My Ocean next to—and having a Cornell box installed just next to that that was about the ocean and about navigation and things like that was, I think, a really fun combination. Or even putting Cornell next to Andy Warhol and Wallace Berman and people like that, dealing with kind of repetition of imagery.
There was even some very simple Cornell pieces. One in particular I think is called a dove coat, which is based on a birdhouse that had very simple geometric forms, and I loved just putting that in a room with Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt and people like that. So it was really fun just to try to tease out unexpected combinations between Joseph Cornell and then artists that came much later and who you would think had much different concerns than he did.